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J Immunol. 2007 Feb 15;178(4):1975-9.

Unique human tumor antigens: immunobiology and use in clinical trials.

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Unit of Immunotherapy of Human Tumors, Istituto Nazionale Tumori Foundation, Milan, Italy.


The individual, unique tumor Ags, which characterize each single tumor, were described 50 years ago in rodents but their molecular characterization was limited to few of them and obtained during the last 20 years. Here we summarize the evidence for the existence and the biological role of such Ags in human tumors, although such evidence was provided only during the last 10 years and by a limited number of studies, a fact leading to a misrepresentation of unique Ags in human tumor immunology. This was also due to the increasing knowledge on the shared, self-human tumor Ags, which have been extensively used as cancer vaccines. In this review, we highlight the biological and clinical importance of unique Ags and suggest how they could be used in clinical studies aimed at assessing their immunogenic and clinical potential both in active and adoptive immunotherapy of human tumors.

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