Phage bearing specific antigenic determinants from a target gene can be purified in infectious form to generate a phage-display system that can used to map immunoglobulin binding sites. In the December 23 Nature Biotechnology, Paul Mintz and colleagues at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA, show that phage-display systems can also be used to uncover and validate a specific prognostic serological marker derived from prostate cancer patients (Nature Biotechnology, doi10.1038/nbt774, December 23, 2002).

Mintz et al. developed a screening method based on phage-display random-peptide libraries and identified a consensus motif — NXS/TDKS/T — that bound selectively to circulating antibodies from patients with prostate cancer. In addition, they showed a specific positive correlation between serum reactivity to the corresponding tumor peptide, development of metastatic androgen-independent disease, and shorter overall survival.

"Because, as has long been recognized, tumors express many antigens, this method might...

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