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Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2006 Apr;6(4):379-89.

Cancer testis antigens--their importance in immunotherapy and in the early detection of cancer.

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  • 1National Institute of Immunology, Genes and Proteins Laboratory, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi-110067, India.


The development of successful immunotherapeutic strategies requires the identification and characterisation of immunogenic cancer antigens that will be recognised by the host immune system, leading to tumour rejection. The concept of immunotherapy is based on the assumption that antigenic structures expressed in tumours can be used for therapeutic approaches employing the autologous immune system or by the application of immunotherapeutic reagents. Based on this concept, there is a great need to gain profound knowledge of the actual protein/antigen expression and its distribution pattern within normal tissues and cancerous tissues. Cancer testis (CT) antigens represent a unique class of tumour antigens, which are expressed in a variety of cancerous tissues and are silent in normal tissues, except for the testis. Owing to their restricted gene expression in the testis and various malignancies, CT antigens represent potential defined targets for antigen-based vaccination and antigen-directed immunotherapy to control cancer growth. Moreover, the analysis of humoral and cellular immune responses to CT antigens has proved useful for identifying novel cancer serum biomarkers with potential implications in early diagnosis of cancer.

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