Serum TA90 antigen-antibody complex as a surrogate marker for the efficacy of a polyvalent allogeneic whole-cell vaccine (CancerVax) in melanoma

Ann Surg Oncol. 2001 Apr;8(3):198-203. doi: 10.1007/s10434-001-0198-y.


Introduction: TA90 is a tumor-associated 90-kD glycoprotein antigen expressed on most melanoma cells, including those of CancerVax, a polyvalent allogeneic whole-cell vaccine. Previous studies have shown that a TA90 antigen-antibody immune complex (IC) in the serum of patients with melanoma is a marker of subclinical tumor burden and a strong prognostic factor. We hypothesized that the induction of TA90-IC during postoperative adjuvant CancerVax therapy might indicate vaccine-mediated immune destruction of subclinical melanoma cells with release of TA90, and thereby serve as a surrogate marker of vaccine efficacy.

Methods: From 1993 to 1997, 219 melanoma patients were enrolled in a prospective phase II trial of CancerVax plus bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) after complete tumor resection. Coded serum samples were prospectively collected and analyzed for TA90-IC before and 2, 4, 8, 12, and 16 weeks after initiation of CancerVax therapy. TA90-IC seroconverters were those patients whose negative TA90-IC values (< .410) became positive (> or = .410) after initiation of CancerVax treatment.

Results: Before CancerVax therapy, 51 patients had positive TA90-IC values and 168 patients had negative TA90-IC values. During CancerVax treatment, all 51 positive patients remained positive, 79 (47%) negative patients seroconverted to positive, and 89 (53%) negative patients remained negative. Seroconverters had higher 2-year rates of disease-free survival (59% vs. 32%; P < .006) and overall survival (78% vs. 63%; P < .02) than did patients whose TA90-IC values remained positive.

Conclusions: CancerVax induces TA90-IC in melanoma patients with subclinical disease. TA90-IC seroconverted patients have significantly improved disease-free and overall survival compared with TA90-IC positive patients. TA90-IC is an important prognostic factor that can serve as a surrogate marker for the clinical efficacy of CancerVax.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cancer Vaccines*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Rate


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • TA90 immune complex