Autoantibodies represent an attractive biomarker for diagnostic assays principally due to the stability of immunoglobulin in patient serum facilitating measurement with conventional assays. Immune responses to tumorigenesis may facilitate detection of ovarian cancer in the early stages of the disease with identification of a panel of tumour specific autoantibodies. Despite the reporting of many tumour associated autoantibodies using arrays of tumour antigens, this has not led to the advance in diagnostic capability as rapidly as was initially expected. Here we examine the potential diagnostic utility of candidate autoantibody biomarkers identified via screening of serum samples on a high content human protein array from a unique cohort of early stage and late stage ovarian cancer patients. We analyse the performance of autoantibodies to the tumour suppressor protein p53 and the novel autoantigens alpha adducin and endosulfine alpha identified in our array screen. Each antigen has different performance characteristics using conventional ELISA format and Western blot immunoassay. The high attrition rate of promising autoantigens identified by array screening can in part be explained by the presentation of the epitope of the antigen in the subsequent method of validation and this study provides directions on maximising the potential of candidate biomarkers. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Translational Proteomics.
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