Synthesis of Carcinoembryonic Antigen in vitro

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NORMAL and neoplastic mammalian cells cultivated in vitro retain a number of functions that characterize their cellular origin, even after extensive passage1. It therefore seems reasonable to expect that cell products such as tumour-associated antigens could, if present from the outset, be retained in a demonstrable state when the tumour cells are cultivated outside the original host organism. The discovery by Gold and Freedman2 of an antigenic substance specific for entodermally-derived cancers of the digestive system, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), provides a suitable candidate for studying one such property related to a particular type of human cancer. It has been proposed, however, that tumour-specific antigens such as CEA are not indigenous to the tumours, but are glycoproteins produced elsewhere in the body and coating the tumour cells secondarily3. If this were the case, then human colonic cancer cells in long-term propagation in vitro should not synthesize this material. We now present evidence to the contrary.

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