Challenges in Antibody Development against Tn and Sialyl-Tn Antigens

Liliana R Loureiro, Mylène A Carrascal, Ana Barbas, José S Ramalho, Carlos Novo, Philippe Delannoy, Paula A Videira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)
178 Downloads (Pure)


The carbohydrate antigens Tn and sialyl-Tn (STn) are expressed in most carcinomas and usually absent in healthy tissues. These antigens have been correlated with cancer progression and poor prognosis, and associated with immunosuppressive microenvironment. Presently they are used in clinical trials as therapeutic vaccination, but with limited success due to their low immunogenicity. Alternatively, anti-Tn and/or STn antibodies may be used to harness the immune system against tumor cells. Whilst the development of antibodies against these antigens had a boost two decades ago for diagnostic use, so far no such antibody entered into clinical trials. Possible limitations are the low specificity and efficiency of existing antibodies and that novel antibodies are still necessary. The vast array of methodologies available today will allow rapid antibody development and novel formats. Following the advent of hybridoma technology, the immortalization of human B cells became a methodology to obtain human monoclonal antibodies with better specificity. Advances in molecular biology including phage display technology for high throughput screening, transgenic mice and more recently molecularly engineered antibodies enhanced the field of antibody production. The development of novel antibodies against Tn and STn taking advantage of innovative technologies and engineering techniques may result in innovative therapeutic antibodies for cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1783-809
Number of pages27
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2015


  • Animals
  • Antibodies
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Neoplasms
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review


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