A potential new therapy for cancer is active specific immunotherapy with melanoma antigen (MAGE) gene products. The MAGE gene family comprizes a series of 12 closely related genes, some of which have been shown to be expressed in a variety of tumours of different histological origin. Peptides encoded by the MAGE genes are targets for specific immunotherapy as they are presented in association with human leucocyte antigen class I molecules and are recognised by cytotoxic T lymphocytes. This article reviews the discovery, development, role and therapeutic potential of MAGE tumour-associated antigens. Knowledge in this field of study is in its early stages. Future advances can be anticipated in term of defining therapeutic relevance, antigen detection and discovery of related genes.
Copyright 1999 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.