Autoantibodies as biomarkers of ovarian cancer

Lead researcher

Ms Amy Wilson, Ms Laura Moffitt

Main finding

Cancer-specific antibodies appear in the circulation of most patients with solid tumours, and typically are present well before the detection of clinical disease. Thus, they can provide specific and early indicators of tumour progression. Using high content protein arrays and ELISA testing, we identified auto-antibodies against several novel antigens in patients with early-stage ovarian cancer. These could specifically indicate the presence of early disease in a small patient group, and had an additive effect when used in combination with CA125 to detect ovarian cancers.


Centre for Cancer Research

Research group

Ovarian Cancer Biomamrkers


Ms Amy L Wilson
Ms Laura R Moffitt
Ms Nadine Duffield
Dr Adam Rainczuk
Assoc ProfTom W Jobling
Prof Magdalena Plebanski
Dr Andrew N Stephens

Journal and article title

Most surprising

The nature of antigens recognized by auto-antibodies was highly dynamic; not only did their identities change according to disease progression, but their cellular origin and recognition by different antibody subtypes were also dependent on disease stage. Most interestingly, IgA - a key antibody type found at mucosal surfaces, such as those of the reproductive tract - was elevated in early stage disease, and substantially reduced in the later stages.

Future implications

Mucosal immunity may be an important and novel indicator of the early presence of cancers in the female reproductive tract. Defining immune response at the mucosal surface could provide a novel and effective mechanism to screen for the early development of disease.

Disease/health impact

ovarian cancer