NeuGc-containing gangliosides have been described in melanoma cells and are an attractive target for cancer immunotherapy because they are minimally or not expressed in normal human tissues. Melanoma patients treated with a vaccine based on N-glycolyl gangliosides have shown benefit in progression free survival and overall survival. We conducted a multicenter Phase I/II clinical trial in patients with metastatic cutaneous melanoma treated with the N-gycolyl GM3/very-small-size proteoliposomes vaccine by the subcutaneous route. Selecting the optimal biological dose of the vaccine was the principal objective based on immunogenicity, efficacy, and safety results. Six dose levels were studied and the treatment schedule consisted of five doses administered every 2 weeks and then monthly until 15 doses had been given. Dose levels evaluated were 150, 300, 600, 900, 1200, and 1500 μg with five patients included in each dose level except the 900 μg dose (n = 10). Immunogenicity was determined by antibody titers generated in patients after vaccination. Antitumor effect was measured by response criteria of evaluation in solid tumors and safety was evaluated by common toxicity criteria of adverse events. The vaccine was safe and immunogenic at all doses levels. The most frequent adverse events related to vaccination were mild to moderate injection site reactions and flu-like symptoms. Vaccination induced specific anti-NeuGcGM3 immunoglobulin M and immunoglobulin G antibody responses in all patients. Disease control (objective response or stable disease) was obtained in 38.46% of patients. Global median overall survival was 20.20 months. Two patients achieved overall survival duration of about 4 and 5 years, respectively. The 900 μg dose resulted in overall survival duration of 19.40 months and was selected as the biological optimal dose.
melanoma; clinical trial; therapeutic vaccine; ganglioside; N-glycolyl GM3
Active specific immunotherapy is a promising field in cancer research. N-glycolyl (NGc) gangliosides, and particularly NGcGM3, have received attention as a privileged target for cancer therapy. Many clinical trials have been performed with the anti-NGc-containing gangliosides anti-idiotype monoclonal antibody racotumomab (formerly known as 1E10) and the conjugated NGcGM3/VSSP vaccine for immunotherapy of melanoma, breast, and lung cancer. The present paper examines the role of NGc-gangliosides in tumor biology as well as the available preclinical and clinical data on these vaccine products. A brief discussion on the relevance of prioritization of cancer antigens in vaccine development is also included.
Neu-glycolyl (NeuGc)-containing gangliosides are attractive targets for immunotherapy with anti-idiotype mAbs, because these glycolipids are not normal components of the cytoplasmic membrane in humans, but their expression has been demonstrated in several human malignant tumors. Racotumomab is an anti-idiotype mAb specific to P3 mAb, an antibody which reacts to NeuGc-containing gangliosides, sulfatides, and other antigens expressed in tumors. Preparations containing racotumomab were able to induce a strong anti-metastatic effect in tumor-bearing mice. Different Phase I clinical trials have been conducted in patients with advanced melanoma, breast cancer, and lung cancer. The results of these clinical trials demonstrated the low toxicity and the high immunogenicity of this vaccine. The induced antibodies recognized and directly killed tumor cells expressing NeuGcGM3. A Phase II/III multicenter, controlled, randomized, double blind clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the effect of aluminum hydroxide-precipitated racotumomab vaccine in overall survival in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The clinical results of this study showed a significant clinical benefit in the patients who were treated with the anti-idiotype vaccine.
anti-idiotype vaccine; cancer; immunotherapy
The authors conducted exploratory phase 1–2 clinical trials vaccinating breast cancer patients with E75, a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) A2/A3–restricted HER-2/neu (HER2) peptide, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor. The vaccine is given as adjuvant therapy to prevent disease recurrence. They previously reported that the vaccine is safe and effective in stimulating expansion of E75-specific cytotoxic T cells. Here, they report 24-month landmark analyses of disease-free survival (DFS).
These dose escalation/schedule optimization trials enrolled lymph node-positive and high-risk lymph node-negative patients with HER2 (immunohistochemistry [IHC] 1-3+) expressing tumors. HLA-A2/A3+ patients were vaccinated; others were followed prospectively as controls for recurrence. DFS was analyzed by Kaplan-Meier curves; groups were compared using log-rank tests.
Of 195 enrolled patients, 182 were evaluable: 106 (58.2%) in the vaccinated group and 76 (41.8%) in the control group. The 24-month landmark analysis DFS was 94.3% in the vaccinated group and 86.8% in the control group (P = .08). Importantly, because of trial design, 65% of patients received a lower than optimal vaccine dose. In subset analyses, patients who benefited most from vaccination (vaccinated group vs control group) had lymph node-positive (DFS, 90.2% vs 79.1%; P = .13), HER2 IHC 1+-2+ (DFS, 94.0% vs 79.4%; P = .04), or grade 1 or 2 (DFS, 98.4% vs 86.0%; P = .01) tumors and were optimally dosed (DFS, 97.3% vs 86.8%; P = .08). A booster program has been initiated; no patients receiving booster inoculations have recurred.
The E75 vaccine has clinical efficacy that is more prominent in certain patients. A phase 3 trial enrolling lymph node-positive patients with HER2 low-expressing tumors is warranted.
breast cancer; HER2/neu; E75; immunotherapy; cancer vaccines
We performed a phase I clinical trial of adenovirus/PSA (Ad/PSA) vaccine in men with measurable metastatic hormone refractory disease.
Men with measurable metastatic disease received one vaccine injection. Toxicity, immune responses, changes in PSA doubling times, and patient survival were assessed. Thirty-two patients with hormone refractory metastatic prostate cancer were treated with a single subcutaneous vaccine injection at 1 of 3 dose levels, either as an aqueous solution or suspended in a Gelfoam® matrix. All patients returned for physical and clinical chemistry examinations at regular intervals up to 12 months after injections.
The vaccine was deemed safe at all doses in both administration forms. There were no serious vaccine-related adverse events; the most prevalent were localized erythema/ecchymoses and cold/flu-like symptoms. Anti-PSA antibodies were produced by 34% of patients and anti-PSA T cell responses were produced by 68%. PSA doubling time was increased in 48%, while 55% survived longer than predicted by the Halabi nomogram.
The Ad/PSA vaccine was proven safe with no serious vaccine-related adverse events. The majority of vaccinated patients produced anti-PSA T cell responses and over half survived longer than predicted by nomogram. Although the latter data are only derived from a small number of patients in this phase I trial, they are encouraging enough to pursue further studies.
Objective. CIGB-228 is a novel therapeutic vaccine consisting of HLA-restricted HPV16 E7 epitope adjuvated with VSSP. This trial was designed to evaluate the toxicity, safety, immunogenicity, HPV clearance, and lesion regression. Methods. Seven women were entered. All were HLA-A2 positive, had biopsy-proven high-grade CIN, histologically positive for HPV16, and beared persistent postbiopsy lesions visible by digital colposcopy. HLA-A2 women with biopsy-proven high-grade CIN, HPV16-positive, and beared persistent postbiopsy lesions visible by digital colposcopy were vaccinated. One weekly injections of CIGB-228 vaccine was given for four weeks. Then, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) of the transformation zone was performed. Study subjects were followed for 1 year after LEEP. Results. No toxicity beyond grade 1 was observed during and after the four vaccinations. Five of seven women had complete and partial regression. Cellular immune response was seen in all patients. HPV was cleared in three of the patients with complete response.
Conclusion. CIGB-228 vaccination was well tolerated and capable to induce IFNγ-associated T-cell response in women with high-grade CIN. In several patients, lesion regression and HPV clearance were observed.
The primary objectives of this phase I/II study were to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of combination therapy consisting of concurrent trastuzumab and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)/neu-specific vaccination in patients with HER2/neu-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer.
Patients and Methods
Twenty-two patients with stage IV HER2/neu-positive breast cancer receiving trastuzumab therapy were vaccinated with an HER2/neu T-helper peptide-based vaccine. Toxicity was graded according to National Cancer Institute criteria, and antigen specific T-cell immunity was assessed by interferon gamma enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay. Data on progression-free and overall survival were collected.
Concurrent trastuzumab and HER2/neu vaccinations were well tolerated, with 15% of patients experiencing an asymptomatic decline in left ventricular ejection fraction below the normal range during combination therapy. Although many patients had pre-existing immunity specific for HER2/neu and other breast cancer antigens while treated with trastuzumab alone, that immunity could be significantly boosted and maintained with vaccination. Epitope spreading within HER2/neu and to additional tumor-related proteins was stimulated by immunization, and the magnitude of the T-cell response generated was significantly inversely correlated with serum transforming growth factor beta levels. At a median follow-up of 36 months from the first vaccine, the median overall survival in the study population has not been reached.
Combination therapy with trastuzumab and a HER2/neu vaccine is associated with minimal toxicity and results in prolonged, robust, antigen-specific immune responses in treated patients.
Prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) is a prostate tumor antigen. We have previously demonstrated that a DNA vaccine encoding PAP can elicit antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in rodents. We report here the results of a phase I/IIa trial conducted with a DNA vaccine encoding human PAP in patients with stage D0 prostate cancer.
Patients and Methods
Twenty-two patients were treated in a dose-escalation trial with 100 μg, 500 μg, or 1,500 μg plasmid DNA, coadministered intradermally with 200 μg granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor as a vaccine adjuvant, six times at 14-day intervals. All patients were observed for 1 year after treatment.
No significant adverse events were observed. Three (14%) of 22 patients developed PAP-specific IFNγ-secreting CD8+ T-cells immediately after the treatment course, as determined by enzyme-linked immunospot. Nine (41%) of 22 patients developed PAP-specific CD4+ and/or CD8+ T-cell proliferation. Antibody responses to PAP were not detected. Overall, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) doubling time was observed to increase from a median 6.5 months pretreatment to 8.5 months on-treatment (P = .033), and 9.3 months in the 1-year post-treatment period (P = .054).
The demonstration that a DNA vaccine encoding PAP is safe, elicits an antigen-specific T-cell response, and may be associated with an increased PSA doubling time suggests that a multi-institutional phase II trial designed to evaluate clinical efficacy is warranted.
Mammaglobin-A (Mam-A) is a 10 kD secretory protein that is overexpressed in 80% of primary and metastatic human breast cancers. Previous studies from our laboratory demonstrated that Mam-A cDNA vaccine can induce Mam-A specific CD8 T-cell responses and mediate regression of human breast cancer xenografts in NOD/SCID mice. In this report, we present our results on a phase I clinical trial of a Mam-A cDNA vaccination in breast cancer patients with stage-IV metastatic disease, including the impact of vaccination on the expression of the inducible co-stimulator molecule (ICOS) on CD4 T cells. Specimens from seven patients with stage IV metastatic cancer were available for these analyses. Patients were vaccinated with a Mam-A cDNA vaccine on days 0, 28 and 56, and immune responses were assessed at serial time points following vaccination. At six months following the first vaccination, flow cytometric analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the frequency of CD4+ICOShi T cells from 5 ± 2% pre-vaccination to 23 ± 4% (p<0.001), with a concomitant decrease in the frequency of CD4+Foxp3+ T cells (Treg) from 19 ± 6% to 10 ± 5% (p<0.05). ELISpot analysis of CD4+ICOShi sorted T-cells demonstrated that following vaccination the cytokines produced by Mam-A-specific T cells switched from IL-10 (78 ± 21 spm pre-vaccination to 32 ± 14 spm 5 months post-vaccine p<0.001) to IFN-γ (12 ± 6 spm pre-vaccination to 124 ± 31 spm 5 months post-vaccine p<0.001). The ratio of CD4+ICOShi T cells to CD4+Foxp3+ T cells increased from 0.37 ± 0.12 prior to vaccination to 2.3 ± 0.72 (p=0.021) following vaccination. Further, these activated CD4+ ICOShi T-cells induced preferential lysis of human breast cancer cells expressing Mam-A protein. We conclude that mammaglobin-A cDNA vaccination is associated with specific expansion and activation of CD4+ICOShi T cells, with a concomitant decrease in Treg frequency. These encouraging results strongly suggest that Mam-A cDNA vaccination can induce antitumor immunity in breast cancer patients.
DNA Vaccine; Mammaglobin-A; Breast Cancer; T-cells; ICOS
DepoVaxTM is a novel non-emulsion depot-forming vaccine platform with the capacity to significantly enhance the immunogenicity of peptide cancer antigens. Naturally processed HLA-A2 restricted peptides presented by breast, ovarian and prostate cancer cells were used as antigens to create a therapeutic cancer vaccine, DPX-0907.
A phase I clinical study was designed to examine the safety and immune activating potential of DPX-0907 in advanced stage breast, ovarian and prostate cancer patients. A total of 23 late stage cancer patients were recruited and were divided into two dose/volume cohorts in a three immunization protocol.
DPX-0907 was shown to be safe with injection site reactions being the most commonly reported adverse event. All breast cancer patients (3/3), most of ovarian (5/6) and one third of prostate (3/9) cancer patients exhibited detectable immune responses, resulting in a 61% immunological response rate. Immune responses were generally observed in patients with better disease control after their last prior treatment. Antigen-specific responses were detected in 73% of immune responders (44% of evaluable patients) after the first vaccination. In 83% of immune responders (50% of evaluable patients), peptide-specific T cell responses were detected at ≥2 time points post vaccination with 64% of the responders (39% of evaluable patients) showing evidence of immune persistence. Immune monitoring also demonstrated the generation of antigen-specific T cell memory with the ability to secrete multiple Type 1 cytokines.
The novel DepoVax formulation promotes multifunctional effector memory responses to peptide-based tumor associated antigens. The data supports the capacity of DPX-0907 to elicit Type-1 biased immune responses, warranting further clinical development of the vaccine. This study underscores the importance of applying vaccines in clinical settings in which patients are more likely to be immune competent.
Immunotherapy; Peptide; Montanide; DepoVaxTM
Two clinical trials were conducted to evaluate the clinical efficacy and immunologic impact of vaccination against the tyrosinase protein plus systemic interleukin 2 (IL-2) administration in patients with advanced metastatic melanoma.
Full-length tyrosinase was employed as an immunogen to induce diverse immunologic responses against a commonly expressed melanoma antigen. Heterologous prime/boost vaccination with recombinant vaccinia and fowlpox vectors encoding tyrosinase was first explored in a randomized three-arm phase II trial, in which vaccines were administered alone or concurrently with low-dose or high-dose IL-2. In a subsequent single cohort phase II trial, all patients received the same vaccines and high-dose IL-2 sequentially rather than concurrently.
Among a total of 64 patients treated on these trials, 8 objective partial responses (12.5%) were observed, all in patients receiving high-dose IL-2. Additional patients showed evidence of lesional regression (mixed tumor response) or overall regression that did not achieve partial response status (minor response). In vitro evidence of enhanced immunity against tyrosinase following protocol treatments was documented in 3 of 49 (6%) patients tested serologically, 3 of 23 (13%) patients tested for T-cell recognition of individual tyrosinase peptides, and 4 of 16 (25%) patients tested for T-cell recognition of full-length tyrosinase protein with real-time reverse transcription-PCR techniques.
Whereas prime/boost immunization with recombinant vaccinia and fowlpox viruses enhanced antityrosinase immunity in some patients with metastatic melanoma, it was ineffective alone in mediating clinical benefit, and in combination with IL-2 did not mediate clinical benefit significantly different from that expected from treatment with IL-2 alone.
Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) –secreting tumor vaccines have demonstrated bioactivity but may be limited by disease burdens and immune tolerance. We tested the hypothesis that cyclophosphamide (CY) and doxorubicin (DOX) can enhance vaccine-induced immunity in patients with breast cancer.
Patients and Methods
We conducted a 3 × 3 factorial (response surface) dose-ranging study of CY, DOX, and an HER2-positive, allogeneic, GM-CSF–secreting tumor vaccine in 28 patients with metastatic breast cancer. Patients received three monthly immunizations, with a boost 6 to 8 months from study entry. Primary objectives included safety and determination of the chemotherapy doses that maximize HER2-specific immunity.
Twenty-eight patients received at least one immunization, and 16 patients received four immunizations. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed. HER2-specific delayed-type hypersensitivity developed in most patients who received vaccine alone or with 200 mg/m2 CY. HER2-specific antibody responses were enhanced by 200 mg/m2 CY and 35 mg/m2 DOX, but higher CY doses suppressed immunity. Analyses revealed that CY at 200 mg/m2 and DOX at 35 mg/m2 is the combination that produced the highest antibody responses.
First, immunotherapy with an allogeneic, HER2-positive, GM-CSF–secreting breast tumor vaccine alone or with CY and DOX is safe and induces HER2-specific immunity in patients with metastatic breast cancer. Second, the immunomodulatory activity of low-dose CY has a narrow therapeutic window, with an optimal dose not exceeding 200 mg/m2. Third, factorial designs provide an opportunity to identify the most active combination of interacting drugs in patients. Further investigation of the impact of chemotherapy on vaccine-induced immunity is warranted.
Adjuvant trastuzumab (Herceptin) treatment of breast cancer patients significantly improves their clinical outcome. Vaccination is an attractive alternative approach to provide HER-2/neu (Her2)-specific antibodies and may in addition concomitantly stimulate Her2-reactive T-cells. Here we report the first administration of a Her2-plasmid DNA (pDNA) vaccine in humans.
Patients and Methods
The vaccine, encoding a full-length signaling-deficient version of the oncogene Her2, was administered together with low doses of GM-CSF and IL-2 to patients with metastatic Her2-expressing breast carcinoma who were also treated with trastuzumab. Six of eight enrolled patients completed all three vaccine cycles. In the remaining two patients treatment was discontinued after one vaccine cycle due to rapid tumor progression or disease-related complications. The primary objective was the evaluation of safety and tolerability of the vaccine regimen. As a secondary objective, treatment-induced Her2-specific immunity was monitored by measuring antibody production as well as T-cell proliferation and cytokine production in response to Her2-derived antigens.
No clinical manifestations of acute toxicity, autoimmunity or cardiotoxicity were observed after administration of Her2-pDNA in combination with GM-CSF, IL-2 and trastuzumab. No specific T-cell proliferation following in vitro stimulation of freshly isolated PBMC with recombinant human Her2 protein was induced by the vaccination. Immediately after all three cycles of vaccination no or even decreased CD4+ T-cell responses towards Her2-derived peptide epitopes were observed, but a significant increase of MHC class II restricted T-cell responses to Her2 was detected at long term follow-up. Since concurrent trastuzumab therapy was permitted, λ-subclass specific ELISAs were performed to specifically measure endogenous antibody production without interference by trastuzumab. Her2-pDNA vaccination induced and boosted Her2-specific antibodies that could be detected for several years after the last vaccine administration in a subgroup of patients.
This pilot clinical trial demonstrates that Her2-pDNA vaccination in conjunction with GM-CSF and IL-2 administration is safe, well tolerated and can induce long-lasting cellular and humoral immune responses against Her2 in patients with advanced breast cancer.
The trial registration number at the Swedish Medical Products Agency for this trial is Dnr151:785/2001.
Prostvac is a prostate cancer vaccine regimen consisting of a recombinant vaccinia vector as a primary vaccination, followed by multiple booster vaccinations employing a recombinant fowlpox vector. Both vectors contain the transgenes for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and multiple T-cell costimulatory molecules (TRICOM). The PSA-TRICOM vaccines infect antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and generate proteins that are expressed on the surface of the APCs in an immune context. The interaction of these APCs with T cells initiates a targeted immune response and T cell-mediated tumor cell destruction. Preliminary clinical trials have indicated negligible toxicity and determined the optimal dosing schedule. In addition, these trials indicate that Prostvac may hold promise in the treatment of prostate cancer. Phase II trials have shown a survival benefit after treatment with Prostvac, especially in patients with indolent disease characteristics. Preclinical and clinical data indicate that radiation, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy may be combined with Prostvac to enhance the vaccine’s efficacy. Additional strategies are in development to further enhance the clinical benefits of Prostvac, and a phase III trial is being planned in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.
prostate cancer; therapeutic cancer vaccine; immunotherapy
Poxviral vaccines have been given to over 1 billion people in the successful global eradication of smallpox. Since then, recombinant poxviruses have been investigated extensively as a novel immunotherapy for cancer, undergoing several iterations to optimize their immunogenicity and efficacy. The current platform expressing multiple costimulatory molecules plus a tumor-associated antigen such as PSA, i.e., PSA-TRICOM (PROSTVAC-V/F), is promising and is currently in a phase III randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.
This review discusses the clinical development of poxviral-based cancer vaccines, with a particular focus on the rationale for combining vaccines with other treatment modalities, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, other immune-based therapies, and molecularly targeted therapy. We also discuss the importance of appropriate patient selection in clinical trial design.
Preclinical and early clinical studies with poxviral vector vaccines have shown promising results with this novel immunologic approach both as vaccine alone and combined with other therapies. The challenges of translating the science of immunotherapy to clinical practice include clinical trial design that includes appropriate patient selection, appropriate endpoints, and identification of meaningful surrogate biomarkers.
combination approach; immune-related response criteria; PANVAC-V/F; PROSTVAC-V/F; therapeutic cancer vaccine; tumor growth rate
Metastatic and chemoresistant melanoma can be a good target of immunotherapy because it is an intractable cancer with a very poor prognosis. Previously, we tested a dendritic cell (DC)-based phase I vaccine, and confirmed that it was safe. In the present study, we performed a phase II trial of a DC vaccine for metastatic melanoma patients with mainly the HLA-A24 genotype, and investigated the efficacy of the vaccine. Twenty-four patients with metastatic melanoma were enrolled into a phase II study of DC-based immunotherapy. The group included 19 HLA-A24-positive (A*2402) patients and 3 HLA-A2-positive (A*0201) patients. The protocol for DC production was similar to that in the phase I trial. Briefly, a cocktail of 5 melanoma-associated synthetic peptides (gp100, tyrosinase, MAGE-A2, MAGE-A3 and MART-1 or MAGE-A1) restricted to HLA-A2 or A24 and KLH were used for DC pulsing. Finally, DCs were injected subcutaneously (s.c.) into the inguinal region in the dose range of 1–5×107 per shot. The DC ratio (lin-HLA-DR+) of the vaccine was 38.1±13.3% and the frequency of CD83+ DCs was 25.7±20.8%. Other parameters regarding DC processing were not different from phase I. Immune response-related parameters including the ELISPOT assay, DTH reaction to peptide or KLH, DC injection numbers were shown to be related to a good prognosis. The ELISPOT reaction was positive in 75% of the patients vaccinated. The increase of anti-melanoma antigen antibody titer before vaccination was also shown to be a prognosis factor, but that post-vaccination was not. Based on immunohistochemical analysis, CD8 and IL-17 were not involved in the prognosis. Adverse effects of more than grade III were not seen. Overall survival analysis revealed a significant survival prolongation effect in DC-given melanoma patients. These results suggest that peptide cocktail-treated DC vaccines may be a safe and effective therapy against metastatic melanoma in terms of prolongation of overall survival time.
dendritic cell; immunotherapy; metastatic melanoma; HLA-A24; overall survival
Racotumomab is a murine anti-idiotype cancer vaccine targeting NeuGcGM3 on melanoma, breast, and lung cancer. In order to characterize the immunogenicity of alum-adsorbed racotumomab in a non-clinical setting, Leghorn chickens were immunized in dose levels ranging from 25 μg to 1600 μg. Racotumomab was administered subcutaneously in the birds' neck with three identical boosters and serum samples were collected before, during and after the immunization schedule. A strong antibody response was obtained across the evaluated dose range, confirming the immunogenicity of racotumomab even at dose levels as low as 25 μg. As previously observed when using Freund's adjuvant, alum-adsorbed racotumomab induced an idiotype-specific response in all the immunized birds and ganglioside-specific antibodies in 60–100% of the animals. In contrast to the rapid induction anti-idiotype response, detection of ganglioside-specific antibodies in responsive animals may require repeated boosting. Kinetics of anti-NeuGcGM3 antibody titers showed a slight decline 2 weeks after each booster, arguing in favor of repeated immunizations in order to maintain antibody titer. Interestingly, the intensity of the anti-NeuGcGM3 response paralleled that of anti-mucin antibodies and anti-tumor antibodies, suggesting that the in vitro detection of anti-ganglioside antibodies might be a surrogate for an in vivo activity of racotumomab. Taken together, these results suggest that Leghorn chicken immunization might become the means to test the biological activity of racotumomab intended for clinical use.
NeuGcGM3; racotumomab; anti-idiotype antibody; leghorn chickens; antibody responses; tumor antigens
Taxane therapy is commonly used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. However, most patients will eventually become refractory to these agents. Ixabepilone is a newly approved chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Although it targets microtubules similarly to docetaxel and paclitaxel, ixabepilone has activity in patients that are refractory to taxanes. This review summarizes the pharmacology of ixapebilone and clinical trials with the drug both as a single agent and in combination. Data were obtained using searches of PubMed and abstracts of the annual meetings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium from 1995 to 2008. Ixapebilone is a semi-synthetic analog of epothilone B that acts to induce apoptosis of cancer cells via the stabilization of microtubules. Phase I clinical trials have employed various dosing schedules ranging from daily to weekly to 3-weekly. Dose-limiting toxicites included neuropathy and neutropenia. Responses were seen in a variety of tumor types. Phase II studies verified activity in taxane-refractory metastatic breast cancer. The FDA has approved ixabepilone for use as monotherapy and in combination with capecitabine for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Ixabepilone is an efficacious option for patients with refractory metastatic breast cancer. The safety profile is similar to that of taxanes, with neuropathy and neutropenia being dose-limiting. Studies are ongoing with the use of both iv and oral formulations and in combination with other chemotherapeutic and biologic agents.
ixabepilone; epothilone; metastatic breast cancer; taxane-refractory
Results of a double-blind, randomized, phase III clinical trial evaluating time to progression and overall survival in women with metastatic breast cancer who received sialyl-TN keyhole limpet hemocyanin vaccine are reported.
This double-blind, randomized, phase III clinical trial evaluated time to progression (TTP) and overall survival in women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) who received sialyl-TN (STn) keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) vaccine. Secondary endpoints included vaccine safety and immune response.
The study population consisted of 1,028 women with MBC across 126 centers who had previously received chemotherapy and had had either a complete or a partial response or no disease progression. All women received one-time i.v. cyclophosphamide (300 mg/m2) 3 days before s.c. injection of 100 μg STn-KLH plus adjuvant (treatment group) or 100 μg KLH plus adjuvant (control group) at weeks 0, 2, 5, and 9. Subsequently, STn-KLH without adjuvant or KLH without adjuvant was then administered monthly for 4 months, and then quarterly until disease progression, without cyclophosphamide.
STn-KLH vaccine was well tolerated; patients had mild to moderate injection-site reactions and reversible flu-like symptoms. Week-12 antibody testing revealed high specific IgG titers and a high rate of IgM-to-IgG seroconversion; the median IgG titers in STn-KLH recipients were 320 (anti-ovine submaxillary mucin) and 20,480 (anti-STn), with no detectable antimucin antibodies in the control group. The TTP was 3.4 months in the treatment group and 3.0 months in the control group. The median survival times were 23.1 months and 22.3 months, respectively.
Although STn-KLH was well tolerated in this largest to date metastatic breast cancer vaccine trial, no overall benefit in TTP or survival was observed. Lessons were learned for future vaccine study designs.
Metastatic breast cancer; MUC-1 antibody; Antiestrogen; Vaccine; Chemotherapy
Clearance of infections caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) correlates with HCV-specific T cell function. We therefore evaluated therapeutic vaccination in 12 patients with chronic HCV infection. Eight patients also underwent a subsequent standard-of-care (SOC) therapy with pegylated interferon (IFN) and ribavirin. The phase I/IIa clinical trial was performed in treatment naive HCV genotype 1 patients, receiving four monthly vaccinations in the deltoid muscles with 167, 500, or 1,500 μg codon-optimized HCV nonstructural (NS) 3/4A-expressing DNA vaccine delivered by in vivo electroporation (EP). Enrollment was done with 2 weeks interval between patients for safety reasons. Treatment was safe and well tolerated. The vaccinations significantly improved IFN-γ–producing responses to HCV NS3 during the first 6 weeks of therapy. Five patients experienced 2–10 weeks 0.6–2.4 log10 reduction in serum HCV RNA. Six out of eight patients starting SOC therapy within 1–30 months after the last vaccine dose were cured. This first-in-man therapeutic HCV DNA vaccine study with the vaccine delivered by in vivo EP shows transient effects in patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection. The interesting result noted after SOC therapy suggests that therapeutic vaccination can be explored in a combination with SOC treatment.
This study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of a weekly schedule of epirubicin in combination with docetaxel in the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). A total of 43 women with MBC not previously treated with chemotherapy for metastatic disease received weekly epirubicin 25 mg m−2 and docetaxel 25 mg m−2 for a maximum of five cycles (total cumulative epirubicin dose of ⩽900 mg m−2). Dose reduction was not permitted. Objective response and evaluation of toxicity profile were the primary study end points; time to progression and overall survival were secondary end points. Patients were followed for a median of 21 (4–38) months. Analysis was by intent to treat; 33 patients completed five cycles of therapy, and the median dose of epirubicin administered to the 43 patients was 23 mg m−2. Twenty-five patients (58%) achieved a partial response and one (2%) achieved a complete response. An additional 12 patients (28%) had stable disease. The median time to progression was 11 months (95% confidence intervals (CI) 7–14) overall, and 13 months (95% CI 12–14) in the 26 patients who responded to treatment. Median overall survival was 25 months for responders and 14 months for nonresponders. Grade 3/4 neutropenia occurred in 16% of patients and in 6% of cycles. One patient developed cardiac toxicity (20% reduction in left ventricular ejection fraction). The combination of epirubicin plus docetaxel is highly active in MBC, with a manageable toxicity profile. Such a weekly schedule might provide a valuable treatment option for MBC.
metastatic breast cancer, chemotherapy, weekly epirubicin, weekly docetaxel, weekly schedule, three week schedule
Immunotherapy for the treatment of metastatic melanoma remains a major clinical challenge. The melanoma microenvironment may lead to local T cell tolerance in part through downregulation of costimulatory molecules, such as B7.1 (CD80). We report the results from the first clinical trial, to our knowledge, using a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing B7.1 (rV-B7.1) for monthly intralesional vaccination of accessible melanoma lesions. A standard 2-dose–escalation phase I clinical trial was conducted with 12 patients. The approach was well tolerated with only low-grade fever, myalgias, and fatigue reported and 2 patients experiencing vitiligo. An objective partial response was observed in 1 patient and disease stabilization in 2 patients, 1 of whom is alive without disease 59 months following vaccination. All patients demonstrated an increase in postvaccination antibody and T cell responses against vaccinia virus. Systemic immunity was tested in HLA-A*0201 patients who demonstrated an increased frequency of gp100 and T cells specific to melanoma antigen recognized by T cells 1 (MART-1), also known as Melan-A, by ELISPOT assay following local rV-B7.1 vaccination. Local immunity was evaluated by quantitative real-time RT-PCR, which suggested that tumor regression was associated with increased expression of CD8 and IFN-γ. The local delivery of vaccinia virus expressing B7.1 was well tolerated and represents an innovative strategy for altering the local tumor microenvironment in patients with melanoma.
Patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer have a dismal prognosis with a mean life expectancy of 3–6 months. New treatment modalities are thus urgently needed. Telomerase is expressed in 85–90% of pancreas cancer, and immunogenic telomerase peptides have been characterised. A phase I/II study was conducted to investigate the safety, tolerability, and immunogenecity of telomerase peptide vaccination. Survival of the patients was also recorded. Forty-eight patients with non-resectable pancreatic cancer received intradermal injections of the telomerase peptide GV1001 at three dose levels, in combination with granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor. The treatment period was 10 weeks. Monthly booster vaccinations were offered as follow-up treatment. Immune responses were measured as delayed-type hypersensitivity skin reaction and in vitro T-cell proliferation. GV1001 was well tolerated. Immune responses were observed in 24 of 38 evaluable patients, with the highest ratio (75%) in the intermediate dose group. Twenty-seven evaluable patients completed the study. Median survival for the intermediate dose-group was 8.6 months, significantly longer for the low- (P=0.006) and high-dose groups (P=0.05). One-year survival for the evaluable patients in the intermediate dose group was 25%. The results demonstrate that GV1001 is immunogenic and safe to use. The survival data indicate that induction of an immune response is correlated with prolonged survival, and the vaccine may offer a new treatment option for pancreatic cancer patients, encouraging further clinical studies.
telomerase vaccine; immunotherapy; inoperable pancreatic cancer
Cancer immunotherapy seeks to mobilize a patient's immune system for therapeutic benefit. It can be passive, i.e., transfer of immune effector cells (T cells) or proteins (antibodies); or active, i.e., vaccination. Early clinical trials testing vaccination with ex-vivo generated dendritic cells (DCs) pulsed with tumor antigens provide a proof-of-principle that therapeutic immunity can be elicited. Yet, the clinical benefit measured by regression of established tumors in patients with stage IV cancer has been observed in a fraction of patients only. The next generation of DC vaccines is expected to generate large numbers of high avidity effector CD8+ T cells and to overcome regulatory T cells and suppressive environment established by tumors, a major obstacle in metastatic disease. Therapeutic vaccination protocols will combine improved DC vaccines with chemotherapy to exploit immunogenic chemotherapy regimens. We foresee adjuvant vaccination in patients with resected tumors but at high risk of relapse to be based on in vivo targeting of DCs with fusion proteins containing anti-DCs antibodies, antigens from tumor stem/propagating cells and DC activators.
We previously reported that survivin-2B, a splicing variant of survivin, was expressed in various types of tumors and that survivin-2B peptide might serve as a potent immunogenic cancer vaccine. The objective of this study was to examine the toxicity of and to clinically and immunologically evaluate survivin-2B peptide in a phase I clinical study for patients with advanced or recurrent breast cancer.
We set up two protocols. In the first protocol, 10 patients were vaccinated with escalating doses (0.1–1.0 mg) of survivin-2B peptide alone 4 times every 2 weeks. In the second protocol, 4 patients were vaccinated with the peptide at a dose of 1.0 mg mixed with IFA 4 times every 2 weeks.
In the first protocol, no adverse events were observed during or after vaccination. In the second protocol, two patients had induration at the injection site. One patient had general malaise (grade 1), and another had general malaise (grade 1) and fever (grade 1). Peptide vaccination was well tolerated in all patients. In the first protocol, tumor marker levels increased in 8 patients, slightly decreased in 1 patient and were within the normal range during this clinical trial in 1 patient. With regard to tumor size, two patients were considered to have stable disease (SD). Immunologically, in 3 of the 10 patients (30%), an increase of the peptide-specific CTL frequency was detected. In the second protocol, an increase of the peptide-specific CTL frequency was detected in all 4 patients (100%), although there were no significant beneficial clinical responses. ELISPOT assay showed peptide-specific IFN-γ responses in 2 patients in whom the peptide-specific CTL frequency in tetramer staining also was increased in both protocols.
This phase I clinical study revealed that survivin-2B peptide vaccination was well tolerated. The vaccination with survivin-2B peptide mixed with IFA increased the frequency of peptide-specific CTL more effectively than vaccination with the peptide alone, although neither vaccination could induce efficient clinical responses. Considering the above, the addition of another effectual adjuvant such as a cytokine, heat shock protein, etc. to the vaccination with survivin-2B peptide mixed with IFA might induce improved immunological and clinical responses.