The current status of cancer biomarker research using tumour-associated antigens for minimal invasive and early cancer diagnostics

J Proteomics. 2012 Dec 5;76 Spec No.:102-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2012.07.022. Epub 2012 Jul 26.


Tumour-associated antigens (TAA) can be detected prior to clinical diagnosis and thus would be ideal biomarkers for early detection of cancer using only a few microliters of a patient's serum. In this article we provide a summary of TAA screening and serum-profiling conducted for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. Different methodological approaches, including SEREX, SERPA, and phage display for TAA identification and TAA panels are summarised, and a revision of array based techniques is provided. The most promising studies performed on these cancers (performed with 80-400 serum samples, including controls) obtained sensitivities in a range of 44-95% and specificities of 80-100%. From the various studies reviewed, only one performed cross validation (AUC=0.71) in a prostate cancer study. Thus, albeit receiver operation characteristics are very promising, cross validation of most studies is still missing. Additionally, the concerted action of research groups for standardization of serum-TAA testing and cross validation is required. Along with today's technological options, the chances of establishing TAA biomarkers are now higher than ever before. This may also be true for confirmation and validation of already existing data, which is a prerequisite for implementation of TAA biomarkers into clinical diagnostics. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Integrated omics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / blood*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasms / blood*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor