, Volume 77, Issue 9, pp 640-655
Date: 08 Sep 1999

Human tumor antigens: implications for cancer vaccine development

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The adoptive transfer of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes along with interleukin 2 into autologous patients resulted in the objective regression of tumor in about 30% of patients with melanoma, indicating that these T cells play a role in tumor rejection. To understand the molecular basis of the T cell-cancer cell interaction we and others started to search for tumor antigens expressed on cancer cells recognized by T cells. This led to the identification of several major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I restricted tumor antigens. These tumor antigens have been classified into several categories: tissue-specific differentiation antigens, tumor-specific shared antigens, and tumor-specific unique antigens. Because CD4+ T cells play a central role in orchestrating the host immune response against cancer, infectious diseases, and autoimmune diseases, a novel genetic approach has recently been developed to identify these MHC class II restricted tumor antigens. The identification of both MHC class I and II restricted tumor antigens provides new opportunities for the development of therapeutic strategies against cancer. This review summarizes the current status of tumor antigens and their potential applications to cancer treatment.

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