Table 2.

Characteristics of an ideal cancer antigen

CriteriaTop subcriteria
Therapeutic functionSuperb data controlled vaccine trial suggestive
ImmunogenicityT-cell and/or antibody responses elicited in clinical trials
OncogenicityAssociated with oncogenic process (i.e., oncogenic “self” protein)
SpecificityAbsolutely specific (e.g., mutated oncogene, idiotype protein, or viral protein)
Expression level and % positive cellsHighly expressed on all cancer cells in patients designated for treatment
Stem cell expressionEvidence for expression on putative cancer stem cells
No. patients with antigen-positive cancersHigh level of expression in many patients with a particular tumor type
No. epitopesLonger antigen with multiple epitopes and the potential to bind to most MHC molecules
Cellular location of expressionNormally expressed on the cell surface with no or little circulating antigen