CEA vaccines

Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2023 Dec 15;19(3):2291857. doi: 10.1080/21645515.2023.2291857. Epub 2023 Dec 13.


Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a glycosylated cell surface oncofetal protein involved in adhesion, proliferation, and migration that is highly upregulated in multiple carcinomas and has long been a promising target for cancer vaccination. This review summarizes the progress to date in the development of CEA vaccines, examining both pre-clinical and clinical studies across a variety of vaccine platforms that in aggregate, begin to reveal some critical insights. These studies demonstrate the ability of CEA vaccines to break immunologic tolerance and elicit CEA-specific immunity, which associates with improved clinical outcomes in select individuals. Approaches that have combined replicating viral vectors, with heterologous boosting and different adjuvant strategies have been particularly promising but, these early clinical trial results will require confirmatory studies. Collectively, these studies suggest that clinical efficacy likely depends upon harnessing a potent vaccine combination in an appropriate clinical setting to fully realize the potential of CEA vaccination.

Keywords: CEA; Carcinoembryonic antigen; cancer vaccines; clinical trials; heterologous boosting; immunotherapy; self-replicating RNA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines*
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Synthetic


  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Synthetic

Grants and funding

The author(s) reported there is no funding associated with the work featured in this article.