In the 1950s, Bickerstaff and Fisher independently described cases with a unique presentation of ophthalmoplegia and ataxia. The neurological features were typically preceded by an antecedent infection and the majority of patients made a spontaneous recovery. In the cases with Bickerstaff brainstem encephalitis, there was associated altered consciousness and in some, hyperreflexia, in support of a central pathology whereas in Fisher syndrome, patients were areflexic in keeping with a peripheral aetiology. However, both authors recognised certain similarities to Guillain-Barré syndrome such as the presence of peripheral neuropathy and cerebrospinal fluid albuminocytological dissociation. The discovery of immunoglobulin G anti-GQ1b antibodies in patients with Fisher syndrome and later in Bickerstaff brainstem encephalitis was crucial in providing the necessary evidence to conclude that both conditions were in fact part of the same spectrum of disease by virtue of their common clinical and immunological profiles. Following this, other neurological presentations that share anti-GQ1b antibodies emerged in the literature. These include acute ophthalmoparesis and acute ataxic neuropathy, which represent the less extensive spectrum of the disease whereas pharyngeal-cervical-brachial weakness and Fisher syndrome overlap with Guillain-Barré syndrome represent the more extensive end of the spectrum. The conditions can be referred to as the 'anti-GQ1b antibody syndrome'. In this review, we look back at the historical descriptions and describe how our understanding of Fisher syndrome and Bickerstaff brainstem encephalitis has evolved from their initial descriptions more than half a century ago.
Immunization with anti-idiotype (Id) antibodies represents a novel new approach to active immunotherapy. Extensive studies in animal tumor models have demonstrated the efficacy of anti-Id vaccines in preventing tumor growth and curing mice with established tumor. We have developed and characterized several murine monoclonal anti-Id antibodies (Ab2) which mimic distinct human tumor-associated antigens (TAA) and can be used as surrogate antigens for triggering active anti-tumor immunity in cancer patients. Encouraging results have been obtained in recent clinical trials. In this article, we will review the existing literature and summarize our own findings showing the potential of this approach for various human cancers. We will also discuss where anti-Id vaccines may perform better than traditional antigen vaccines.
Anti-idiotype (Id) vaccine therapy has been tested and shown to be effective, in several animal models, for triggering the immune system to induce specific and protective immunity against bacterial, viral and parasitic infections. The administration of anti-Id antibodies as surrogate tumor-associated antigens (TAA) also represents another potential application of the concept of the Id network. Limited experience in human trials using anti-Id to stimulate immunity against tumors has shown promising results. In this "counter-point" article, we discuss our own findings showing the potential of anti-Id antibody vaccines to be novel therapeutic approaches to various human cancers and also discuss where anti-Id vaccines may perform better than traditional multiple-epitope antigen vaccines.