The question of whether human tumors express antigens that can be recognized by the immune system has been answered with a resounding YES. Most were identified through spontaneous antitumor humoral and cellular immune responses found in cancer patients and include peptides, glycopeptides, phosphopeptides, viral peptides, and peptides resulting from common mutations in oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes, or common gene fusion events. Many have been extensively tested as candidates for anticancer vaccines. More recently, attention has been focused on the potentially large number of unique tumor antigens, mutated neoantigens, that are the predicted products of the numerous mutations revealed by exome sequencing of primary tumors. Only a few have been confirmed as targets of spontaneous immunity and immunosurveillance, and even fewer have been tested in preclinical and clinical settings. The field has been divided for a long time on the relative importance of shared versus mutated antigens in tumor surveillance and as candidates for vaccines. This question will eventually need to be answered in a head to head comparison in well-designed clinical trials. One advantage that shared antigens have over mutated antigens is their potential to be used in vaccines for primary cancer prevention. Cancer Immunol Res; 5(5); 347–54. ©2017 AACR.
- ©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.