Oncogenic cancer/testis antigens: prime candidates for immunotherapy

Morten F. Gjerstorff _, Mads H. Andersen and Henrik J. Ditzel

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:15772-15787. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4694

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Morten F. Gjerstorff1, Mads H. Andersen2 and Henrik J. Ditzel1,3

1 Department of Cancer and Inflammation Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

2 Department of Haematology, Center for Cancer Immune Therapy (CCIT), Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, Denmark

3 Department of Oncology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark

Correspondence to:

Morten Gjerstorff, email:

Keywords: cancer/testis antigen, oncogenesis, immunotherapy

Received: May 19, 2015 Accepted: June 21, 2015 Published: June 30, 2015


Recent developments have set the stage for immunotherapy as a supplement to conventional cancer treatment. Consequently, a significant effort is required to further improve efficacy and specificity, particularly the identification of optimal therapeutic targets for clinical testing. Cancer/testis antigens are immunogenic, highly cancer-specific, and frequently expressed in various types of cancer, which make them promising candidate targets for cancer immunotherapy, including cancer vaccination and adoptive T-cell transfer with chimeric T-cell receptors. Our current understanding of tumor immunology and immune escape suggests that targeting oncogenic antigens may be beneficial, meaning that identification of cancer/testis antigens with oncogenic properties is of high priority. Recent work from our lab and others provide evidence that many cancer/testis antigens, in fact, have oncogenic functions, including support of growth, survival and metastasis. This novel insight into the function of cancer/testis antigens has the potential to deliver more effective cancer vaccines. Moreover, immune targeting of oncogenic cancer/testis antigens in combination with conventional cytotoxic therapies or novel immunotherapies such as checkpoint blockade or adoptive transfer, represents a highly synergistic approach with the potential to improve patient survival.

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