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1.  Effect of vaccination with N-glycolyl GM3/VSSP vaccine by subcutaneous injection in patients with advanced cutaneous melanoma 
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.
doi:10.2147/CMAR.S22617
PMCID: PMC3468021  PMID: 23055778
melanoma; clinical trial; therapeutic vaccine; ganglioside; N-glycolyl GM3
2.  A Population-Based Evaluation of a Publicly Funded, School-Based HPV Vaccine Program in British Columbia, Canada: Parental Factors Associated with HPV Vaccine Receipt 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000270.
Analysis of a telephone survey by Gina Ogilvie and colleagues identifies the parental factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake in a school-based program in Canada.
Background
Information on factors that influence parental decisions for actual human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine receipt in publicly funded, school-based HPV vaccine programs for girls is limited. We report on the level of uptake of the first dose of the HPV vaccine, and determine parental factors associated with receipt of the HPV vaccine, in a publicly funded school-based HPV vaccine program in British Columbia, Canada.
Methods and Findings
All parents of girls enrolled in grade 6 during the academic year of September 2008–June 2009 in the province of British Columbia were eligible to participate. Eligible households identified through the provincial public health information system were randomly selected and those who consented completed a validated survey exploring factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to calculate adjusted odds ratios to identify the factors that were associated with parents' decision to vaccinate their daughter(s) against HPV. 2,025 parents agreed to complete the survey, and 65.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 63.1–67.1) of parents in the survey reported that their daughters received the first dose of the HPV vaccine. In the same school-based vaccine program, 88.4% (95% CI 87.1–89.7) consented to the hepatitis B vaccine, and 86.5% (95% CI 85.1–87.9) consented to the meningococcal C vaccine. The main reasons for having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine were the effectiveness of the vaccine (47.9%), advice from a physician (8.7%), and concerns about daughter's health (8.4%). The main reasons for not having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine were concerns about HPV vaccine safety (29.2%), preference to wait until the daughter is older (15.6%), and not enough information to make an informed decision (12.6%). In multivariate analysis, overall attitudes to vaccines, the impact of the HPV vaccine on sexual practices, and childhood vaccine history were predictive of parents having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine in a publicly funded school-based HPV vaccine program. By contrast, having a family with two parents, having three or more children, and having more education was associated with a decreased likelihood of having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine.
Conclusions
This study is, to our knowledge, one of the first population-based assessments of factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake in a publicly funded school-based program worldwide. Policy makers need to consider that even with the removal of financial and health care barriers, parents, who are key decision makers in the uptake of this vaccine, are still hesitant to have their daughters receive the HPV vaccine, and strategies to ensure optimal HPV vaccine uptake need to be employed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 10% of cancers in women occur in the cervix, the structure that connects the womb to the vagina. Every year, globally, more than a quarter of a million women die because of cervical cancer, which only occurs after the cervix has been infected with a human papillomavirus (HPV) through sexual intercourse. There are many types of HPV, a virus that infects the skin and the mucosa (the moist membranes that line various parts of the body, including the cervix). Although most people become infected with HPV at some time in their life, most never know they are infected. However, some HPV types cause harmless warts on the skin or around the genital area and several—in particular, HPV 16 and HPV 18, so-called high-risk HPVs—can cause cervical cancer. HPV infections are usually cleared by the immune system, but about 10% of women infected with a high-risk HPV develop a long-term infection that puts them at risk of developing cervical cancer.
Why Was This Study Done?
Screening programs have greatly reduced cervical cancer deaths in developed countries in recent decades by detecting the cancer early when it can be treated; but it would be better to prevent cervical cancer ever developing. Because HPV is necessary for the development of cervical cancer, vaccination of girls against HPV infection before the onset of sexual activity might be one way to do this. Scientists recently developed a vaccine that prevents infection with HPV 16 and HPV 18 (and with two HPVs that cause genital warts) and that should, therefore, reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. Publicly funded HPV vaccination programs are now planned or underway in several countries; but before girls can receive the HPV vaccine, parental consent is usually needed, so it is important to know what influences parental decisions about HPV vaccination. In this study, the researchers undertake a telephone survey to determine the uptake of the HPV vaccine by 11-year-old girls (grade 6) in British Columbia, Canada, and to determine the parental factors associated with vaccine uptake; British Columbia started a voluntary school-based HPV vaccine program in September 2008.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In early 2009, the researchers contacted randomly selected parents of girls enrolled in grade 6 during the 2008–2009 academic year and asked them to complete a telephone survey that explored factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake. 65.1% of the 2,025 parents who completed the survey had consented to their daughter receiving the first dose of HPV vaccine. By contrast, more than 85% of the parents had consented to hepatitis B and meningitis C vaccination of their daughters. Nearly half of the parents surveyed said their main reason for consenting to HPV vaccination was the effectiveness of the vaccine. Conversely, nearly a third of the parents said concern about the vaccine's safety was their main reason for not consenting to vaccination and one in eight said they had been given insufficient information to make an informed decision. In a statistical analysis of the survey data, the researchers found that a positive parental attitude towards vaccination, a parental belief that HPV vaccination had limited impact on sexual practices, and completed childhood vaccination increased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the HPV vaccine. Having a family with two parents or three or more children and having well-educated parents decreased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the vaccine.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide one of the first population-based assessments of the factors that affect HPV vaccine uptake in a setting where there are no financial or health care barriers to vaccination. By identifying the factors associated with parental reluctance to agree to HPV vaccination for their daughters, these findings should help public-health officials design strategies to ensure optimal HPV vaccine uptake, although further studies are needed to discover why, for example, parents with more education are less likely to agree to vaccination than parents with less education. Importantly, the findings of this study, which are likely to be generalizable to other high-income countries, indicate that there is a continued need to ensure that the public receives credible, clear information about both the benefits and long-term safety of HPV vaccination.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000270.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about cervical cancer for patients and for health professionals, including information on HPV vaccines (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about cervical cancer and about HPV
The UK National Health Service Choices website has pages on cervical cancer and on HPV vaccination
More information about cervical cancer and HPV vaccination is available from the Macmillan cancer charity
ImmunizeBC provides general information about vaccination and information about HPV vaccination in British Columbia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about cervical cancer (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000270
PMCID: PMC2864299  PMID: 20454567
3.  Live, Attenuated Influenza A H5N1 Candidate Vaccines Provide Broad Cross-Protection in Mice and Ferrets 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(9):e360.
Background
Recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic influenza A H5N1 viruses in humans and avian species that began in Asia and have spread to other continents underscore an urgent need to develop vaccines that would protect the human population in the event of a pandemic.
Methods and Findings
Live, attenuated candidate vaccines possessing genes encoding a modified H5 hemagglutinin (HA) and a wild-type (wt) N1 neuraminidase from influenza A H5N1 viruses isolated in Hong Kong and Vietnam in 1997, 2003, and 2004, and remaining gene segments derived from the cold-adapted (ca) influenza A vaccine donor strain, influenza A/Ann Arbor/6/60 ca (H2N2), were generated by reverse genetics. The H5N1 ca vaccine viruses required trypsin for efficient growth in vitro, as predicted by the modification engineered in the gene encoding the HA, and possessed the temperature-sensitive and attenuation phenotypes specified by the internal protein genes of the ca vaccine donor strain. More importantly, the candidate vaccines were immunogenic in mice. Four weeks after receiving a single dose of 106 50% tissue culture infectious doses of intranasally administered vaccines, mice were fully protected from lethality following challenge with homologous and antigenically distinct heterologous wt H5N1 viruses from different genetic sublineages (clades 1, 2, and 3) that were isolated in Asia between 1997 and 2005. Four weeks after receiving two doses of the vaccines, mice and ferrets were fully protected against pulmonary replication of homologous and heterologous wt H5N1 viruses.
Conclusions
The promising findings in these preclinical studies of safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of the H5N1 ca vaccines against antigenically diverse H5N1 vaccines provide support for their careful evaluation in Phase 1 clinical trials in humans.
Promising preclinical results on safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy against diverse H5N1 strains provide support for careful evaluation of live, attenuated H5N1 vaccines in clinical trials in humans.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes according to two of the proteins from the virus surface, the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins, each of which occurs naturally in several different versions. For example, the global epidemic (pandemic) of 1918–1919 was caused by an influenza virus containing subtype 1 hemagglutinin and subtype 1 neuraminidase (H1N1), the 1957–1958 pandemic involved an H2N2 virus, and the 1969 pandemic, H3N2. Since 1997, several serious outbreaks of H5N1 infection have occurred in poultry and in humans, raising concerns that H5N1 “bird flu” may cause the next human influenza pandemic. Although human-to-human transmission of H5N1 viruses appears limited, mortality rates in human outbreaks of the disease have been alarmingly high—approximately 50%. A protective vaccine against H5N1 influenza might not only benefit regions where transmission from poultry to humans occurs, but could conceivably avert global catastrophe in the event that H5N1 evolves such that human-to-human spread becomes more frequent.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several approaches are in progress to develop vaccines against H5N1 viruses. To date, the products that have been tested in humans have not been very effective in producing a strong immune response. To be optimal for human use, a vaccine would have to be very safe, remain stable in storage, and provide protection against influenza caused by naturally occurring H5N1 viruses that are not precisely identical to the ones used to make the vaccine. This study was done to develop a new H5N1 vaccine and to test it in animals.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed vaccines using three artificially constructed, weakened forms of the H5N1 influenza virus. The three vaccine viruses were constructed using flu virus proteins other than HA and NA from an artificially weakened (attenuated) strain of influenza. These were combined in laboratory-grown cells with HA and NA proteins from H5N1 viruses isolated from human cases during three different years: 2004, 2003, and 1997. They grew larger quantities of the resulting viruses in hen's eggs, and tested the vaccines in chickens, ferrets, and mice.
In tests of safety, the study found that, unlike the natural viruses from which they were derived, the vaccine strains did not cause death when injected into the bloodstream of chickens, and did not even cause infection when given through the birds' breathing passages. Similarly, while the natural viruses were lethal in mice at various doses, the vaccine strains did not cause death even at the highest dose. In ferrets, infection with the vaccine strains was limited to the upper respiratory tract, while the natural viruses spread to the lungs and other organs.
In tests of protection, all mice that had received any of the three vaccines survived following infection with any of the natural viruses (so-called viral challenge), while unvaccinated mice died following viral challenge. This occurred even though standard blood tests could not detect a strong immune responses following a single dose of vaccine. Challenge virus was detected in the lungs of the immunized mice, but at lower levels than in the unvaccinated mice. Mice given two doses of a vaccine showed stronger immunity on blood tests, and almost complete protection from respiratory infection following challenge. In addition, mice and ferrets that had received two doses of vaccine were protected against challenge with H5N1 strains from more recent outbreaks in Asia that differed substantially from the strains that were used for the vaccine.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study shows that it is possible to create a live, attenuated vaccine based on a single H5N1 virus that can provide protection (in mice and ferrets, at least) against different H5N1 viruses that emerge years later. Attenuated influenza virus vaccines of this sort are unlikely to be useful to protect fowl because they do not infect or induce an immune response in chickens. However, while the safety and protection found in small animals are encouraging, it is not possible to know without human testing whether a vaccine that protects mice and ferrets will work in humans, or how this type of vaccine may compare with others being developed for use in humans against H5N1 influenza. Tests of one of the vaccines in human volunteers in carefully conducted clinical trials are currently under way.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030360.
WHO Influenza Pandemic Preparedness page
US Department of Health and Human Services Avian and Pandemic flu information site
Wikipedia entry on H5N1 (note: Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
CDC Avian Influenza Web page
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030360
PMCID: PMC1564176  PMID: 16968127
4.  Concurrent Trastuzumab and HER2/neu-Specific Vaccination in Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(28):4685-4692.
Purpose
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2008.20.6789
PMCID: PMC2754913  PMID: 19720923
5.  Optimizing the Dose of Pre-Pandemic Influenza Vaccines to Reduce the Infection Attack Rate 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(6):e218.
Background
The recent spread of avian influenza in wild birds and poultry may be a precursor to the emergence of a 1918-like human pandemic. Therefore, stockpiles of human pre-pandemic vaccine (targeted at avian strains) are being considered. For many countries, the principal constraint for these vaccine stockpiles will be the total mass of antigen maintained. We tested the hypothesis that lower individual doses (i.e., less than the recommended dose for maximum protection) may provide substantial extra community-level benefits because they would permit wider vaccine coverage for a given total size of antigen stockpile.
Methods and Findings
We used a mathematical model to predict infection attack rates under different policies. The model incorporated both an individual's response to vaccination at different doses and the process of person-to-person transmission of pandemic influenza. We found that substantial reductions in the attack rate are likely if vaccines are given to more people at lower doses. These results are applicable to all three vaccine candidates for which data are available. As a guide to the magnitude of the effect, we simulated epidemics based on historical studies of immunogenicity. For example, for one of the vaccines for which data are available, the attack rate would drop from 67.6% to 58.7% if 160 out of the total US population of 300 million were given an optimal dose rather than 20 out of 300 million given the maximally protective dose (as promulgated in the US National Pandemic Preparedness Plan). Our results are conservative with respect to a number of alternative assumptions about the precise nature of vaccine protection. We also considered a model variant that includes a single high-risk subgroup representing children. For smaller stockpile sizes that allow vaccine to be offered only to the high-risk group at the optimal dose, the predicted benefits of using the homogenous model formed a lower bound in the presence of a risk group, even when the high-risk group was twice as infective and twice as susceptible.
Conclusions
In addition to individual-level protection (i.e., vaccine efficacy), the population-level implications of pre-pandemic vaccine programs should be considered when deciding on stockpile size and dose. Our results suggest that a lower vaccine dose may be justified in order to increase population coverage, thereby reducing the infection attack rate overall.
Steven Riley and colleagues examine the potential benefits of "stretching" a limited supply of vaccine and suggest that substantial reductions in the attack rate are possible if vaccines are given to more people at lower doses.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every winter, millions of people catch influenza, a viral infection of the nose, throat, and airways. Most recover quickly, but the disease can be deadly. In the US, seasonal influenza outbreaks (epidemics) cause 36,000 excess deaths annually. And now there are fears that an avian (bird) influenza virus might trigger a human influenza pandemic—a global epidemic that could kill millions. Seasonal epidemics occur because flu viruses continually make small changes to their hemagglutinin and neuraminidase molecules, the viral proteins (antigens) that the immune system recognizes. Because of this “antigenic drift,” an immune system response (which can be induced by catching flu or by vaccination with disabled circulating influenza strains) that combats flu one year may provide only partial protection the next year. “Antigenic shift” (large changes in flu antigens) can cause pandemics because communities have no immunity to the changed virus.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although avian influenza virus, which contains a hemagglutinin type that differs from currently circulating human flu viruses, has caused a few cases of human influenza, it has not started a human pandemic yet because it cannot move easily between people. If it acquires this property, which will probably involve further small antigenic changes, it could kill millions of people before scientists can develop an effective vaccine against it. To provide some interim protection, many countries are preparing stockpiles of “pre-pandemic” vaccines targeted against the avian virus. The US, for example, plans to store enough pre-pandemic vaccine to provide maximum protection to 20 million people (including key health workers) out of its population of 300 million. But, given a limited stockpile of pre-pandemic vaccine, might giving more people a lower dose of vaccine, which might reduce the number of people susceptible to infection and induce herd immunity by preventing efficient transmission of the flu virus, be a better way to limit the spread of pandemic influenza? In this study, the researchers have used mathematical modeling to investigate this question.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To predict the infection rates associated with different vaccination policies, the researchers developed a mathematical model that incorporates data on human immune responses induced with three experimental vaccines against the avian virus and historical data on the person–person transmission of previous pandemic influenza viruses. For all the vaccines, the model predicts that giving more people a low dose of the vaccine would limit the spread of influenza better than giving fewer people the high dose needed for full individual protection. For example, the researchers estimate that dividing the planned US stockpile of one experimental vaccine equally between 160 million people instead of giving it at the fully protective dose to 20 million people might avert about 27 million influenza cases in less than year. However, giving the maximally protective dose to the 9 million US health-care workers and using the remaining vaccine at a lower dose to optimize protection within the general population might avert only 14 million infections.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, given a limited stockpile of pre-pandemic vaccine, increasing the population coverage of vaccination by using low doses of vaccine might reduce the overall influenza infection rate more effectively than vaccinating fewer people with fully protective doses of vaccine. However, because the researchers' model includes many assumptions, it can only give an indication of how different strategies might perform, not firm numbers for how many influenza cases each strategy is likely to avert. Before public-health officials use this or a similar model to help them decide the best way to use pre-pandemic vaccines to control a human influenza pandemic, they will need more information about the efficacy of these vaccines and about transmission rates of currently circulating viruses. They will also need to know whether pre-pandemic vaccines actually provide good protection against the pandemic virus, as assumed in this study, before they can recommend mass immunization with low doses of pre-pandemic vaccine, selective vaccination with high doses, or a mixed strategy.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040218.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on influenza and influenza vaccination for patients and health professionals (in English, Spanish, Filipino, Chinese, and Vietnamese)
The World Health Organization has a fact sheet on influenza and on the global response to avian influenza (in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese)
The MedlinePlus online encyclopedia devotes a page to flu (in English and Spanish)
The UK Health Protection Agency information on avian, pandemic, and seasonal influenza
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a comprehensive feature called “focus on the flu”
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040218
PMCID: PMC1892041  PMID: 17579511
6.  Safety and Reactogenicity of an MSP-1 Malaria Vaccine Candidate: A Randomized Phase Ib Dose-Escalation Trial in Kenyan Children 
PLoS Clinical Trials  2006;1(7):e32.
Objective:
Our aim was to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of an investigational malaria vaccine.
Design:
This was an age-stratified phase Ib, double-blind, randomized, controlled, dose-escalation trial. Children were recruited into one of three cohorts (dosage groups) and randomized in 2:1 fashion to receive either the test product or a comparator.
Setting:
The study was conducted in a rural population in Kombewa Division, western Kenya.
Participants:
Subjects were 135 children, aged 12–47 mo.
Interventions:
Subjects received 10, 25, or 50 μg of falciparum malaria protein 1 (FMP1) formulated in 100, 250, and 500 μL, respectively, of AS02A, or they received a comparator (Imovax® rabies vaccine).
Outcome Measures:
We performed safety and reactogenicity parameters and assessment of adverse events during solicited (7 d) and unsolicited (30 d) periods after each vaccination. Serious adverse events were monitored for 6 mo after the last vaccination.
Results:
Both vaccines were safe and well tolerated. FMP1/AS02A recipients experienced significantly more pain and injection-site swelling with a dose-effect relationship. Systemic reactogenicity was low at all dose levels. Hemoglobin levels remained stable and similar across arms. Baseline geometric mean titers were comparable in all groups. Anti-FMP1 antibody titers increased in a dose-dependent manner in subjects receiving FMP1/AS02A; no increase in anti-FMP1 titers occurred in subjects who received the comparator. By study end, subjects who received either 25 or 50 μg of FMP1 had similar antibody levels, which remained significantly higher than that of those who received the comparator or 10 μg of FMP1. A longitudinal mixed effects model showed a statistically significant effect of dosage level on immune response (F3,1047 = 10.78, or F3, 995 = 11.22, p < 0.001); however, the comparison of 25 μg and 50 μg recipients indicated no significant difference (F1,1047 = 0.05; p = 0.82).
Conclusions:
The FMP1/AS02A vaccine was safe and immunogenic in malaria-exposed 12- to 47-mo-old children and the magnitude of immune response of the 25 and 50 μg doses was superior to that of the 10 μg dose.
Editorial Commentary
Background: Malaria is thought to kill between 1 and 2 million people each year in sub-Saharan Africa; most of these are young children under the age of five, who are particularly prone to developing clinical malaria because their immunity is not yet developed. Many groups of researchers around the world are developing candidate vaccines of different types that it is hoped would protect against malaria. One of these types is a “blood-stage” vaccine, which would prevent parasite multiplication in red blood cells. A candidate blood-stage vaccine is FMP1/AS02A, which is designed to raise an immune response against a particular protein (merozoite surface protein-1) on the surface of the blood-stage infectious form of the malaria parasite. In early-stage clinical trials performed in people not exposed to malaria (healthy volunteers in the United States) and in African adults who were exposed to malaria, this candidate vaccine has already been shown to be safe and to bring about an immune response. As part of the next stage in developing this vaccine, a group of researchers next wanted to see whether the vaccine was also safe and brought about an immune response in the population most in need of a vaccine: young children living in an African region with very intense malaria transmission. Therefore, as reported here, this group performed a small trial in western Kenya, recruiting 135 children under 5 y of age to receive either the FMP1/AS02A vaccine (at three different doses) or rabies vaccine for comparison (thus ensuring that children in the control arm got some benefit from being in the trial). The outcomes that the researchers were interested in were primarily adverse events, which they categorized using a standard questionnaire at up to 7 d after vaccination; unsolicited events reported up to 30 d after vaccination; and, finally, any serious events occurring up to 8 mo later. The researchers also examined antibody responses to the FMP1/AS02A vaccine.
What this trial shows: Participants who received the FMP1/AS02A vaccine (as compared to the rabies vaccine) experienced more immediate symptoms, such as pain and swelling at the injection site. Most participants reported unsolicited events during follow-up, but the proportion of participants with adverse events did not seem to be different between the FMP1/AS02A vaccine groups and the rabies vaccine group. Unsolicited outcomes that were reported included, for example, clinical malaria, upper respiratory tract infections, and a few events that were thought to be related to the vaccines, such as fever and eczema. A few serious adverse events occurred up to 8 mo after vaccination, but the numbers did not seem to be different between the FMP1/AS02A and rabies vaccine groups, and the events were not judged to be related to vaccination. Finally, participants who received the FMP1/AS02A vaccine raised an antibody response to the vaccine, which was highest in those who received the highest vaccine dose. The researchers concluded that this vaccine was safe and brought about an immune response in the group of malaria-exposed children studied.
Strengths and limitations: The trial was conducted in a population that is likely to benefit from the vaccine, if it is shown to be effective in further studies. Therefore, the data obtained from this study will be informative in helping to design future trials on FMP1/AS02A. The randomization procedures used in this study were appropriate, and in particular participants of different ages were equally distributed to the different intervention groups, helping to minimize bias. Procedures were also set up to prevent participants and staff giving the vaccines and collecting data from knowing which interventions participants had received. However, the number of participants recruited into the trial was small, and it therefore was not powered to detect anything other than large differences in rates of adverse events between the study groups.
Contribution to the evidence: This study extends evidence from prior trials on the safety and immunogenicity of the FMP1/AS02A vaccine to a population that is representative of those most in need of an effective vaccine—young African children. The results suggest that the vaccine candidate should undergo further evaluation in trials examining vaccine efficacy in a similar population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pctr.0010032
PMCID: PMC1851726  PMID: 17124529
7.  Dose-dependent effects of NY-ESO-1 protein vaccine complexed with cholesteryl pullulan (CHP-NY-ESO-1) on immune responses and survival benefits of esophageal cancer patients 
Background
Cholesteryl pullulan (CHP) is a novel antigen delivery system for cancer vaccines. This study evaluated the safety, immune responses and clinical outcomes of patients who received the CHP-NY-ESO-1 complex vaccine, Drug code: IMF-001.
Methods
Patients with advanced/metastatic esophageal cancer were enrolled and subcutaneously vaccinated with either 100 μg or 200 μg of NY-ESO-1 protein complexed with CHP. The primary endpoints were safety and humoral immune responses, and the secondary endpoint was clinical efficacy.
Results
A total of 25 patients were enrolled. Thirteen and twelve patients were repeatedly vaccinated with 100 μg or 200 μg of CHP-NY-ESO-1 with a median of 8 or 9.5 doses, respectively. No serious adverse events related to the vaccine were observed. Three out of 13 patients in the 100-μg cohort and 7 out of 12 patients in the 200-μg cohort were positive for anti-NY-ESO-1 antibodies at baseline. In the 100-μg cohort, an antibody response was observed in 5 out of 10 pre-antibody-negatives patients, and the antibody levels were augmented in 2 pre-antibody-positive patients after vaccination. In the 200-μg cohort, all 5 pre-antibody-negative patients became seropositive, and the antibody level was amplified in all 7 pre-antibody-positive patients. No tumor shrinkage was observed. The patients who received 200 μg of CHP-NY-ESO-1 survived longer than patients receiving 100 μg of CHP-NY-ESO-1, even those who exhibited unresponsiveness to previous therapies or had higher tumor burdens.
Conclusions
The safety and immunogenicity of CHP-NY-ESO-1 vaccine were confirmed. The 200 μg dose more efficiently induced immune responses and suggested better survival benefits. (Clinical trial registration number NCT01003808).
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-246
PMCID: PMC4015172  PMID: 24093426
Esophageal cancer; Cancer vaccine; NY-ESO-1; Cholesteryl pullulan (CHP)
8.  Immunization with N-propionyl polysialic acid–KLH conjugate in patients with small cell lung cancer is safe and induces IgM antibodies reactive with SCLC cells and bactericidal against group B meningococci 
Purpose
Polysialic acid (polySA) is a polymer side chain bound to the neural cell adhesion molecule that is extensively expressed on the surface of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cells. In our previous study, a robust antibody response was noted in patients with SCLC after vaccination with 30 μg of keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH)-conjugated N-propionylated (NP-) polySA, but peripheral neuropathy and ataxia were detected in several vaccinated patients. The objectives of the current trial were to establish the lowest optimal dose and to confirm the safety of the induction of antibodies against polySA with the NP-polySA vaccine.
Experimental design
Patients with SCLC who completed initial treatment and had no evidence of disease progression were injected with either 10 or 3 μg of NP-polySA conjugated to KLH and mixed with 100 μg of immunologic adjuvant (QS-21) at weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 16.
Results
Nine patients were enrolled at each of the two dose levels. Prior to vaccination, one patient in each group had low-titer antibodies against polysialic acid. All patients at the 10 μg vaccine dose level responded to vaccination with IgM antibody titers against polysialic acid (median titer 1/1,280 by ELISA), and all but one patient made IgM and IgG antibodies against the artificial vaccine immunogen, NP-polysialic acid (median titer 1/10,240). The antibody responses at the 3 μg vaccine dose level were lower; six of nine patients developed antibodies against polysialic acid (median titer 1/160). Post-vaccination sera from 6/9 and 3/9 patients in the 10 and 3 μg groups reacted strongly with human SCLC cells by fluorescent-activated cell sorting (FACS). Sera from all patients in the 10 μg dose group also had bactericidal activity against group B meningococci with rabbit complement. Self-limited grade 3 ataxia of unclear etiology was seen in 1 of 18 patients.
Conclusions
Vaccination with NP-polySA–KLH resulted in consistent high-titer antibody responses, with the 10 μg dose significantly more immunogenic than the 3 μg dose. This study establishes the lowest optimally immunogenic dose of NP-polysialic acid in this NP-polysialic acid–KLH conjugate vaccine to be at least 10 μg, and it establishes the vaccine’s safety. We plan to incorporate NP-polySA into a polyvalent vaccine against SCLC with four glycolipid antigens also widely expressed in SCLC–GD2, GD3, fucosylated GM1, and globo H.
doi:10.1007/s00262-011-1083-6
PMCID: PMC3732393  PMID: 21811785
Small cell lung cancer; Minimal residual disease; Polysialic acid
9.  HPV16 synthetic long peptide (HPV16-SLP) vaccination therapy of patients with advanced or recurrent HPV16-induced gynecological carcinoma, a phase II trial 
Background
Human papilloma virus type 16 (HPV16)-induced gynecological cancers, in particular cervical cancers, are found in many women worldwide. The HPV16 encoded oncoproteins E6 and E7 are tumor-specific targets for the adaptive immune system permitting the development of an HPV16-synthetic long peptide (SLP) vaccine with an excellent treatment profile in animal models. Here, we determined the toxicity, safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of the HPV16 SLP vaccine in patients with advanced or recurrent HPV16-induced gynecological carcinoma.
Methods
Patients with HPV16-positive advanced or recurrent gynecological carcinoma (n = 20) were subcutaneously vaccinated with an HPV16-SLP vaccine consisting of a mix of 13 HPV16 E6 and HPV16 E7 overlapping long peptides in Montanide ISA-51 adjuvant. The primary endpoints were safety, toxicity and tumor regression as determined by RECIST. In addition, the vaccine-induced T-cell response was assessed by proliferation and associated cytokine production as well as IFNγ-ELISPOT.
Results
No systemic toxicity beyond CTCAE grade II was observed. In a few patients transient flu-like symptoms were observed. In 9 out of 16 tested patients vaccine-induced HPV16-specific proliferative responses were detected which were associated with the production of IFNγ, TNFα, IL-5 and/or IL-10. ELISPOT analysis revealed a vaccine-induced immune response in 11 of the 13 tested patients. The capacity to respond to the vaccine was positively correlated to the patient’s immune status as reflected by their response to common recall antigens at the start of the trial. Median survival was 12.6 ± 9.1 months. No regression of tumors was observed among the 12 evaluable patients. Nineteen patients died of progressive disease.
Conclusions
The HPV16-SLP vaccine was well tolerated and induced a broad IFNγ-associated T-cell response in patients with advanced or recurrent HPV16-induced gynecological carcinoma but neither induced tumor regression nor prevented progressive disease. We, therefore, plan to use this vaccine in combination with chemotherapy and immunomodulation.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-88
PMCID: PMC3623745  PMID: 23557172
Therapeutic vaccine; Synthetic long peptides; Cervical cancer; Immunomonitoring; Immunotherapy; HPV; Survival
10.  A phase II, open-label, multicentre study to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of an adjuvanted prepandemic (H5N1) influenza vaccine in healthy Japanese adults 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:338.
Background
Promising clinical data and significant antigen-sparing have been demonstrated for a pandemic H5N1 influenza split-virion vaccine adjuvanted with AS03A, an α-tocopherol-containing oil-in-water emulsion-based Adjuvant System. Although studies using this formulation have been reported, there have been no data for Japanese populations. This study therefore aimed to assess the immunogenicity and tolerability of a prepandemic (H5N1) influenza vaccine adjuvanted with AS03A in Japanese adults.
Methods
This open-label, single-group study was conducted at two centres in Japan in healthy Japanese males and females aged 20-64 years (n = 100). Subjects received two doses of vaccine, containing 3.75 μg haemagglutinin of the A/Indonesia/5/2005-like IBCDC-RG2 Clade 2.1 (H5N1) strain adjuvanted with AS03A, 21 days apart. The primary endpoint evaluated the humoral immune response in terms of H5N1 haemagglutination inhibition (HI) antibody titres against the vaccine strain (Clade 2.1) 21 days after the second dose. Ninety five percent confidence intervals for geometric mean titres, seroprotection, seroconversion and seropositivity rates were calculated. Secondary and exploratory endpoints included the assessment of the humoral response in terms of neutralising antibody titres, the response against additional H5N1 strains (Clade 1 and Clade 2.2), as well as the evaluation of safety and reactogenicity.
Results
Robust immune responses were elicited after two doses of the prepandemic influenza vaccine adjuvanted with AS03A. Overall, vaccine HI seroconversion rates and seroprotection rates were 91% 21 days after the second vaccination. This fulfilled all regulatory acceptance criteria for the vaccine-homologous HI antibody level. A substantial cross-reactive humoral immune response was also observed against the virus strains A/turkey/Turkey/1/2005 (Clade 2.2) and A/Vietnam/1194/2004 (Clade 1) after the second vaccine administration. A marked post-vaccination response in terms of neutralising antibody titres was demonstrated and persistence of the immune response was observed 6 months after the first dose. The vaccine was generally well tolerated and there were no serious adverse events reported.
Conclusions
The H5N1 candidate vaccine adjuvanted with AS03A elicited a strong and persistent immune response against the vaccine strain A/Indonesia/5/2005 in Japanese adults. Vaccination with this formulation demonstrated a clinically acceptable reactogenicity profile and did not raise any safety concerns in this population.
Trial registration
Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00742885
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-338
PMCID: PMC3004909  PMID: 21108818
11.  Racotumomab: an anti-idiotype vaccine related to N-glycolyl-containing gangliosides – preclinical and clinical data 
Frontiers in Oncology  2012;2:150.
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.
doi:10.3389/fonc.2012.00150
PMCID: PMC3478665  PMID: 23110257
anti-idiotype vaccine; cancer; immunotherapy
12.  Phase I Active Immunotherapy With Combination of Two Chimeric, Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2, B-Cell Epitopes Fused to a Promiscuous T-Cell Epitope in Patients With Metastatic and/or Recurrent Solid Tumors 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(31):5270-5277.
Purpose
To evaluate the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), safety profile, and immunogenicity of two chimeric, B-cell epitopes derived from the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2) extracellular domain in a combination vaccine with a promiscuous T-cell epitope (ie, MVF) and nor-muramyl-dipeptide as adjuvant emulsified in SEPPIC ISA 720.
Patients and Methods
Eligible patients with metastatic and/or recurrent solid tumors received three inoculations on days 1, 22, and 43 at doses of total peptide that ranged from 0.5 to 3.0 mg. Immunogenicity was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, flow cytometry, and HER2 signaling assays.
Results
Twenty-four patients received three inoculations at the intended dose levels, which elicited antibodies able to recognize native HER2 receptor and inhibited both the proliferation of HER2-expressing cell lines and phosphorylation of the HER2 protein. The MTD was determined to be the highest dose level of 3.0 mg of the combination vaccine. There was a significant increase from dose level 1 (0.5 mg) to dose level 4 (3.0 mg) in HER2-specific antibodies. Four patients (one each with adrenal, colon, ovarian, and squamous cell carcinoma of unknown primary) were judged to have stable disease; two patients (one each with endometrial and ovarian cancer) had partial responses; and 11 patients had progressive disease. Patients with stable disease received 6-month boosts, and one patient received a 20-month boost.
Conclusion
The combination vaccines were safe and effective in eliciting antibody responses in a subset of patients (62.5%) and were associated with no serious adverse events, autoimmune disease, or cardiotoxicity. There was preliminary evidence of clinical activity in several patients.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2009.22.3883
PMCID: PMC2773479  PMID: 19752336
13.  NGcGM3/VSSP vaccine as treatment for melanoma patients 
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics  2013;9(6):1237-1240.
Gangliosides are glycosphingolipids that are present in the plasma membranes of vertebrates and are involved in multiple cellular processes. In the Center of Molecular Immunology an NGcGM3 ganglioside based vaccine has been developed and is conceptualized as a targeted therapy in cancer. NGcGM3/VSSP vaccine had been used as treatment of metastatic melanoma patients and had showed to be safe and immunogenic. The treatment improved antitumoral response or maintain the response obtained with previous onco-specific treatment as chemotherapy. The results indicate that the vaccine improved overall survival of metastatic melanoma patients after first line-chemotherapy. The clinical trial ongoing currently will allow corroborating these results.
doi:10.4161/hv.24115
PMCID: PMC3901812  PMID: 23442598
metastatic melanoma; vaccine; NGlycolylated ganglioside; clinical trial
14.  Anti-ganglioside antibodies induced in chickens by an alum-adsorbed anti-idiotype antibody targeting NeuGcGM3 
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.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2012.00422
PMCID: PMC3547288  PMID: 23335925
NeuGcGM3; racotumomab; anti-idiotype antibody; leghorn chickens; antibody responses; tumor antigens
15.  Clinical and immunological evaluation of anti-apoptosis protein, survivin-derived peptide vaccine in phase I clinical study for patients with advanced or recurrent breast cancer 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-6-24
PMCID: PMC2430193  PMID: 18471305
16.  Phase I trial to evaluate the tumor and normal tissue uptake, radiation dosimetry and safety of 111In-DTPA-human epidermal growth factor in patients with metastatic EGFR-positive breast cancer 
The safety, pharmacokinetics, biodistribution and radiation dosimetry of 111In-DTPA-hEGF, an Auger electron-emitting radiopharmaceutical, were evaluated in a first-in-human trial. Dose escalation was performed in patients with EGFR-positive metastatic breast cancer who had received ≥2 prior courses of systemic treatment. 111In-DTPA-hEGF (0.25 mg) was administered once intravenously (i.v.). Blood was collected for biochemistry/hematology testing and pharmacokinetic and immunogenicity analyses at selected times post injection (p.i.). Whole body planar images were acquired at 1, 4-6, 24 and 72 h p.i. and SPECT images at 24 and/or 72 h p.i. Macrodosimetry (MIRD) for the whole body and organs was estimated using OLINDA. Correlative radiological imaging was obtained at baseline, 1 and 3 months and then 6 monthly. Toxicity was scored using Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE)v2.0. Sixteen patients, median age 47 yr (range, 35-59), received 111In-DTPA-hEGF as follows: 357-434 MBq (7), 754-805 MBq (3), 1,241-1,527 MBq (3) and 2,030-2,290 MBq (3). Fifteen were evaluable for toxicity. The commonest adverse events (AE) were flushing, chills, nausea, and vomiting occurring during or immediately p.i. One patient experienced Grade 3 thrombocytopenia (attributed to bone marrow infiltration by cancer). There were no other Grade 3 or 4 AEs. Maximum tolerated dose was not reached. Clear accumulation of radiopharmaceutical in at least one known site of disease was observed in 47% of patients. 111In-DTPA-hEGF was cleared biexponentially from the blood with α-phase T½ of 0.16 ± 0.03 h and β-phase T½ of 9.41 ± 1.93 h. 111In-DTPA-hEGF was not immunogenic. The mean radiation dose estimates in mGy/MBq for whole body, liver, kidneys, spleen and thyroid were 0.08, 0.86, 0.74, 0.37 and 0.30, respectively. No objective antitumor responses were observed at the doses studied. In summary, administered amounts of up to 2,290 MBq (0.25 mg) of 111In-DTPA-hEGF were well tolerated as a single i.v. injection.
PMCID: PMC3992211  PMID: 24753984
Auger electron; 111In-DTPA-hEGF; breast cancer; Phase I trial
17.  Phase I/II Study of Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus NV1020 in Patients with Extensively Pretreated Refractory Colorectal Cancer Metastatic to the Liver 
Human Gene Therapy  2010;21(9):1119-1128.
Abstract
This multicenter phase I/II study evaluated the safety, pharmacokinetics, and antitumor effects of repeated doses of NV1020, a genetically engineered oncolytic herpes simplex virus, in patients with advanced metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Patients with liver-dominant mCRC received four fixed NV1020 doses via weekly hepatic artery infusion, followed by two or more cycles of conventional chemotherapy. Phase I included cohorts receiving 3 × 106, 1 × 107, 3 × 107, and 1 × 108 plaque-forming units (PFU)/dose to determine the optimal biological dose (OBD) for phase II. Blind independent computed tomography scan review was based on RECIST (response evaluation criteria in solid tumors) to assess hepatic tumor response. Phase I and II enrolled 13 and 19 patients, respectively. Patients experienced transient mild–moderate febrile reactions after each NV1020 infusion. Grade 3/4 virus-related toxicity was limited to transient lymphopenia in two patients. NV1020 shedding was not detected. Simultaneous cytokine and grade 1 coagulation perturbations were dose-limiting at 1 × 108 PFU/dose, considered the OBD. All 22 OBD patients had previously received 5-fluorouracil; most had received oxaliplatin or irinotecan (50% had both), many with at least one targeted agent. After NV1020 administration, 50% showed stable disease. The best overall tumor control rate after chemotherapy was 68% (1 partial response, 14 stable disease); this did not correlate with baseline variables or chemotherapy. Median time to progression was 6.4 months (95% confidence interval: 2, 8.9); median overall survival was 11.8 months (95% confidence interval: 8.3, 20.7). One-year survival was 47.2%. We conclude that NV1020 stabilizes liver metastases with minimal toxicity in mCRC. It may resensitize metastases to salvage chemotherapy and extend overall survival. A randomized phase II/III trial now appears justified.
Geevarghese et al. report results from a phase I/II multicenter study evaluating the safety, pharmacokinetics, and antitumor effects of repeated doses of NV1020, a genetically engineered oncolytic herpes simplex virus, in patients with advanced metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). The authors reveal that NV1020 stabilizes liver metastases with minimal toxicity in mCRC and leads to a one-year survival rate of 47.2%.
doi:10.1089/hum.2010.020
PMCID: PMC3733135  PMID: 20486770
18.  A Pilot Study of MUC-1/CEA/TRICOM Poxviral-Based Vaccine in Patients with Metastatic Breast and Ovarian Cancer 
Purpose
PANVAC is a recombinant poxviral vaccine that contains transgenes for MUC-1, CEA and 3 T-cell costimulatory molecules. This study was conducted to obtain preliminary evidence of clinical response in metastatic breast and ovarian cancer patients.
Experimental design
Twenty-six patients were enrolled and given monthly vaccinations. Clinical and immune outcomes were evaluated.
Results
These patients were heavily pretreated, with 21 of 26 patients having ≥ 3 prior chemotherapy regimens. Side effects were largely limited to mild injection-site reactions. Breast cancer: For the 12 patients enrolled, median time to progression was 2.5 months (1 – 37+) and median overall survival was 13.7 months. Four patients had stable disease. One patient had a complete response by RECIST and remains on study ≥ 37 months, with a significant drop in serum IL-6 and IL-8 by day 71. Another patient with metastatic disease confined to the mediastinum had a 17% reduction in mediastinal mass and was on study for 10 months. Patients with stable or responding disease had fewer prior therapies and lower tumor marker levels than patients with no evidence of response. Ovarian cancer:Median time to progression for patients (n=14) was 2 months (1 – 6) and median overall survival was 15.0 months. Updated data are presented here for one patient treated with this vaccine in a previous trial, with a time to progression of 38 months.
Conclusions
Some patients who had limited tumor burden with minimal prior chemotherapy appeared to benefit from the vaccine. Further studies to confirm these results are warranted.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-0649
PMCID: PMC3227395  PMID: 22068656
Therapeutic Vaccine; Immune Response; Immuno-Oncology
19.  Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: http://www.hqontario.ca/en/mas/mas_ohtas_mn.html.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients with Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at: http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/ceb/faculty_member_giacomini.htm.
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website: http://www.path-hta.ca/About-Us/Contact-Us.aspx.
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website: http://theta.utoronto.ca/static/contact.
Objective
The objective of this analysis was to determine the effectiveness of the influenza vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccination in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in reducing the incidence of influenza-related illness or pneumococcal pneumonia.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Influenza Disease
Influenza is a global threat. It is believed that the risk of a pandemic of influenza still exists. Three pandemics occurred in the 20th century which resulted in millions of deaths worldwide. The fourth pandemic of H1N1 influenza occurred in 2009 and affected countries in all continents.
Rates of serious illness due to influenza viruses are high among older people and patients with chronic conditions such as COPD. The influenza viruses spread from person to person through sneezing and coughing. Infected persons can transfer the virus even a day before their symptoms start. The incubation period is 1 to 4 days with a mean of 2 days. Symptoms of influenza infection include fever, shivering, dry cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose, muscle ache, and sore throat. Other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur.
Complications of influenza infection include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, and other secondary bacterial infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, and otitis media. In viral pneumonia, patients develop acute fever and dyspnea, and may further show signs and symptoms of hypoxia. The organisms involved in bacterial pneumonia are commonly identified as Staphylococcus aureus and Hemophilus influenza. The incidence of secondary bacterial pneumonia is most common in the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as congestive heart disease and chronic bronchitis.
Healthy people usually recover within one week but in very young or very old people and those with underlying medical conditions such as COPD, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, influenza is associated with higher risks and may lead to hospitalization and in some cases death. The cause of hospitalization or death in many cases is viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia. Influenza infection can lead to the exacerbation of COPD or an underlying heart disease.
Streptococcal Pneumonia
Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, is an encapsulated Gram-positive bacterium that often colonizes in the nasopharynx of healthy children and adults. Pneumococcus can be transmitted from person to person during close contact. The bacteria can cause illnesses such as otitis media and sinusitis, and may become more aggressive and affect other areas of the body such as the lungs, brain, joints, and blood stream. More severe infections caused by pneumococcus are pneumonia, bacterial sepsis, meningitis, peritonitis, arthritis, osteomyelitis, and in rare cases, endocarditis and pericarditis.
People with impaired immune systems are susceptible to pneumococcal infection. Young children, elderly people, patients with underlying medical conditions including chronic lung or heart disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, sickle cell disease, and people who have undergone a splenectomy are at a higher risk for acquiring pneumococcal pneumonia.
Technology
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccines
Trivalent Influenza Vaccines in Canada
In Canada, 5 trivalent influenza vaccines are currently authorized for use by injection. Four of these are formulated for intramuscular use and the fifth product (Intanza®) is formulated for intradermal use.
The 4 vaccines for intramuscular use are:
Fluviral (GlaxoSmithKline), split virus, inactivated vaccine, for use in adults and children ≥ 6 months;
Vaxigrip (Sanofi Pasteur), split virus inactivated vaccine, for use in adults and children ≥ 6 months;
Agriflu (Novartis), surface antigen inactivated vaccine, for use in adults and children ≥ 6 months; and
Influvac (Abbott), surface antigen inactivated vaccine, for use in persons ≥ 18 years of age.
FluMist is a live attenuated virus in the form of an intranasal spray for persons aged 2 to 59 years. Immunization with current available influenza vaccines is not recommended for infants less than 6 months of age.
Pneumococcal Vaccine
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines were developed more than 50 years ago and have progressed from 2-valent vaccines to the current 23-valent vaccines to prevent diseases caused by 23 of the most common serotypes of S pneumoniae. Canada-wide estimates suggest that approximately 90% of cases of pneumococcal bacteremia and meningitis are caused by these 23 serotypes. Health Canada has issued licenses for 2 types of 23-valent vaccines to be injected intramuscularly or subcutaneously:
Pneumovax 23® (Merck & Co Inc. Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA), and
Pneumo 23® (Sanofi Pasteur SA, Lion, France) for persons 2 years of age and older.
Other types of pneumococcal vaccines licensed in Canada are for pediatric use. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is injected only once. A second dose is applied only in some conditions.
Research Questions
What is the effectiveness of the influenza vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccination compared with no vaccination in COPD patients?
What is the safety of these 2 vaccines in COPD patients?
What is the budget impact and cost-effectiveness of these 2 vaccines in COPD patients?
Research Methods
Literature search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on July 5, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2000 to July 5, 2010. The search was updated monthly through the AutoAlert function of the search up to January 31, 2011. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. Data extraction was carried out by the author.
Inclusion Criteria
studies comparing clinical efficacy of the influenza vaccine or the pneumococcal vaccine with no vaccine or placebo;
randomized controlled trials published between January 1, 2000 and January 31, 2011;
studies including patients with COPD only;
studies investigating the efficacy of types of vaccines approved by Health Canada;
English language studies.
Exclusion Criteria
non-randomized controlled trials;
studies investigating vaccines for other diseases;
studies comparing different variations of vaccines;
studies in which patients received 2 or more types of vaccines;
studies comparing different routes of administering vaccines;
studies not reporting clinical efficacy of the vaccine or reporting immune response only;
studies investigating the efficacy of vaccines not approved by Health Canada.
Outcomes of Interest
Primary Outcomes
Influenza vaccination: Episodes of acute respiratory illness due to the influenza virus.
Pneumococcal vaccination: Time to the first episode of community-acquired pneumonia either due to pneumococcus or of unknown etiology.
Secondary Outcomes
rate of hospitalization and mechanical ventilation
mortality rate
adverse events
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses. The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Efficacy of the Influenza Vaccination in Immunocompetent Patients With COPD
Clinical Effectiveness
The influenza vaccination was associated with significantly fewer episodes of influenza-related acute respiratory illness (ARI). The incidence density of influenza-related ARI was:
All patients: vaccine group: (total of 4 cases) = 6.8 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 17 cases) = 28.1 episodes per 100 person-years, (relative risk [RR], 0.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.06−0.70; P = 0.005).
Patients with severe airflow obstruction (forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] < 50% predicted): vaccine group: (total of 1 case) = 4.6 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 7 cases) = 31.2 episodes per 100 person-years, (RR, 0.1; 95% CI, 0.003−1.1; P = 0.04).
Patients with moderate airflow obstruction (FEV1 50%−69% predicted): vaccine group: (total of 2 cases) = 13.2 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 4 cases) = 23.8 episodes per 100 person-years, (RR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.05−3.8; P = 0.5).
Patients with mild airflow obstruction (FEV1 ≥ 70% predicted): vaccine group: (total of 1 case) = 4.5 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 6 cases) = 28.2 episodes per 100 person-years, (RR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.003−1.3; P = 0.06).
The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed a significant difference between the vaccinated group and the placebo group regarding the probability of not acquiring influenza-related ARI (log-rank test P value = 0.003). Overall, the vaccine effectiveness was 76%. For categories of mild, moderate, or severe COPD the vaccine effectiveness was 84%, 45%, and 85% respectively.
With respect to hospitalization, fewer patients in the vaccine group compared with the placebo group were hospitalized due to influenza-related ARIs, although these differences were not statistically significant. The incidence density of influenza-related ARIs that required hospitalization was 3.4 episodes per 100 person-years in the vaccine group and 8.3 episodes per 100 person-years in the placebo group (RR, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.04−2.5; P = 0.3; log-rank test P value = 0.2). Also, no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups were observed for the 3 categories of severity of COPD.
Fewer patients in the vaccine group compared with the placebo group required mechanical ventilation due to influenza-related ARIs. However, these differences were not statistically significant. The incidence density of influenza-related ARIs that required mechanical ventilation was 0 episodes per 100 person-years in the vaccine group and 5 episodes per 100 person-years in the placebo group (RR, 0.0; 95% CI, 0−2.5; P = 0.1; log-rank test P value = 0.4). In addition, no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups were observed for the 3 categories of severity of COPD. The effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in preventing influenza-related ARIs and influenza-related hospitalization was not related to age, sex, severity of COPD, smoking status, or comorbid diseases.
safety
Overall, significantly more patients in the vaccine group than the placebo group experienced local adverse reactions (vaccine: 17 [27%], placebo: 4 [6%]; P = 0.002). Significantly more patients in the vaccine group than the placebo group experienced swelling (vaccine 4, placebo 0; P = 0.04) and itching (vaccine 4, placebo 0; P = 0.04). Systemic reactions included headache, myalgia, fever, and skin rash and there were no significant differences between the 2 groups for these reactions (vaccine: 47 [76%], placebo: 51 [81%], P = 0.5).
With respect to lung function, dyspneic symptoms, and exercise capacity, there were no significant differences between the 2 groups at 1 week and at 4 weeks in: FEV1, maximum inspiratory pressure at residual volume, oxygen saturation level of arterial blood, visual analogue scale for dyspneic symptoms, and the 6 Minute Walking Test for exercise capacity.
There was no significant difference between the 2 groups with regard to the probability of not acquiring total ARIs (influenza-related and/or non-influenza-related); (log-rank test P value = 0.6).
Summary of Efficacy of the Pneumococcal Vaccination in Immunocompetent Patients With COPD
Clinical Effectiveness
The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed no significant differences between the group receiving the penumoccocal vaccination and the control group for time to the first episode of community-acquired pneumonia due to pneumococcus or of unknown etiology (log-rank test 1.15; P = 0.28). Overall, vaccine efficacy was 24% (95% CI, −24 to 54; P = 0.33).
With respect to the incidence of pneumococcal pneumonia, the Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed a significant difference between the 2 groups (vaccine: 0/298; control: 5/298; log-rank test 5.03; P = 0.03).
Hospital admission rates and median length of hospital stays were lower in the vaccine group, but the difference was not statistically significant. The mortality rate was not different between the 2 groups.
Subgroup Analysis
The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed significant differences between the vaccine and control groups for pneumonia due to pneumococcus and pneumonia of unknown etiology, and when data were analyzed according to subgroups of patients (age < 65 years, and severe airflow obstruction FEV1 < 40% predicted). The accumulated percentage of patients without pneumonia (due to pneumococcus and of unknown etiology) across time was significantly lower in the vaccine group than in the control group in patients younger than 65 years of age (log-rank test 6.68; P = 0.0097) and patients with a FEV1 less than 40% predicted (log-rank test 3.85; P = 0.0498).
Vaccine effectiveness was 76% (95% CI, 20−93; P = 0.01) for patients who were less than 65 years of age and −14% (95% CI, −107 to 38; P = 0.8) for those who were 65 years of age or older. Vaccine effectiveness for patients with a FEV1 less than 40% predicted and FEV1 greater than or equal to 40% predicted was 48% (95% CI, −7 to 80; P = 0.08) and −11% (95% CI, −132 to 47; P = 0.95), respectively. For patients who were less than 65 years of age (FEV1 < 40% predicted), vaccine effectiveness was 91% (95% CI, 35−99; P = 0.002).
Cox modelling showed that the effectiveness of the vaccine was dependent on the age of the patient. The vaccine was not effective in patients 65 years of age or older (hazard ratio, 1.53; 95% CI, 0.61−a2.17; P = 0.66) but it reduced the risk of acquiring pneumonia by 80% in patients less than 65 years of age (hazard ratio, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.06−0.66; P = 0.01).
safety
No patients reported any local or systemic adverse reactions to the vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3384373  PMID: 23074431
20.  Very small size proteoliposomes abrogate cross-presentation of tumor antigens by myeloid-derived suppressor cells and induce their differentiation to dendritic cells 
Background
Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are among the major obstacles that adjuvants for cancer vaccines have to overcome. These cells cross-present tumor-associated antigens (TAA) to naive T lymphocytes with a tolerogenic outcome. Very Small Size Proteoliposomes (VSSP) is used as adjuvant by four therapeutic cancer vaccines currently in Phase I and II clinical trials. We previously found that VSSP reduces the suppressive function of MDSCs, then activating antigen-specific CTL responses in tumor-bearing (TB) mice, with the consequent reduction of tumor growth. However the mechanistic explanation for the immunomodulatory effect of this adjuvant in TB hosts has not been addressed before.
Methods
TB mice were inoculated with VSSP and MDSCs isolated and characterized by their expression of Arg1 and Nos2 genes by RT-PCR. The effect of VSSP on antigen cross-presentation by MDSCs, regulatory T cells (Tregs) expansion and MDSCs differentiation towards dendritic cells (DCs) was analyzed by FACS. Student’s t test or ANOVA and Tukey’s tests were used for statistical analyses.
Results
After inoculating VSSP into TB mice, a significant reduction of Arg1 and Nos2 gene expression was observed in recovered MDSCs. Concurrently the ability of these cells to induce down-regulation of CD3ζ chain on T cells was lost. Likewise in mice inoculated with the adjuvant lower percentages of Tregs were detected. In vitro, VSSP treatment was enough to differentiate MDSCs into phenotypically mature DCs, eliminating the former suppressive effect. Noteworthy, in vivo administration of VSSP to OVA-expressing (EG.7) TB mice abrogated this model antigen cross-presentation by splenic MDSCs. Similar results were obtained even when OVA antigen was administered into these TB mice formulated in VSSP. On the contrary, immunization with the same protein in polyI:C did not change the percentage of MDSCs expressing SIINFEKL/H-2Kb complexes, whereas a concomitant injection of VSSP aborted the limitations of polyI:C in this setting.
Conclusions
Altogether, these results indicate that VSSP has the peculiar capacity of inhibiting TAA cross-presentation and certain suppressive mechanisms on MDSCs which in turn, combined with the ability to induce differentiation of these cells into antigen-presenting cells (APCs), sustains this adjuvant as an ideal immunomodulator for cancer immunotherapy.
doi:10.1186/2051-1426-2-5
PMCID: PMC4019907  PMID: 24829762
Adjuvants; MDSCs; Tumors; Cross-presentation; APCs
21.  Vaccination with autologous dendritic cells loaded with autologous tumor lysate or homogenate combined with immunomodulating radiotherapy and/or preleukapheresis IFN-α in patients with metastatic melanoma: a randomised “proof-of-principle” phase II study 
Background
Vaccination with dendritic cells (DC) loaded with tumor antigens elicits tumor-specific immune responses capable of killing cancer cells without inducing meaningful side-effects. Patients with advanced melanoma enrolled onto our phase II clinical studies have been treated with autologous DC loaded with autologous tumor lysate/homogenate matured with a cytokine cocktail, showing a clinical benefit (PR + SD) in 55.5% of evaluable cases to date. The beneficial effects of the vaccine were mainly restricted to patients who developed vaccine-specific immune response after treatment. However, immunological responses were only induced in about two-thirds of patients, and treatments aimed at improving immunological responsiveness to the vaccine are needed.
Methods/Design
This is a phase II, “proof-of-principle”, randomized, open-label trial of vaccination with autologous DC loaded with tumor lysate or homogenate in metastatic melanoma patients combined with immunomodulating RT and/or preleukapheresis IFN-α. All patients will receive four bi-weekly doses of the vaccine during the induction phase and monthly doses thereafter for up to a maximum of 14 vaccinations or until confirmed progression. Patients will be randomized to receive:
(1.) three daily doses of 8 Gy up to 12 Gy radiotherapy delivered to one non-index metastatic field between vaccine doses 1 and 2 and, optionally, between doses 7 and 8, using IMRT-IMAT techniques;
(2.) daily 3 MU subcutaneous IFN-α for 7 days before leukapheresis;
(3.) both 1 and 2;
(4.) neither 1 nor 2.
At least six patients eligible for treatment will be enrolled per arm. Daily 3 MU IL-2 will be administered subcutaneously for 5 days starting from the second day after each vaccine dose. Serial DTH testing and blood sampling to evaluate treatment-induced immune response will be performed. Objective response will be evaluated according to immune-related response criteria (irRC).
Discussion
Based upon the emerging role of radiotherapy as an immunologic modifier, we designed a randomized phase II trial adding radiotherapy and/or preleukapheresis IFN-α to our DC vaccine in metastatic melanoma patients. Our aim was to find the best combination of complementary interventions to enhance anti-tumor response induced by DC vaccination, which could ultimately lead to better survival and milder toxicity.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-12-209
PMCID: PMC4223722  PMID: 25053129
Vaccine; Melanoma; Radiotherapy; Dendritic cell
22.  Phase 2 Trial of Paclitaxel Polyglumex with Capecitabine for Metastatic Breast Cancer 
American journal of clinical oncology  2012;10.1097/COC.0b013e31826e0550.
Background
Capecitabine and paclitaxel are established effective treatments, alone and combined with other cytotoxic and targeted agents, for metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Paclitaxel polyglumex (a macromolecular conjugate of paclitaxel bound to poly-L-glutamic acid) has potential advantages over conventional paclitaxel, including little alopecia, short infusion time with no premedication, enhanced tumor permeability/retention effect, and improved tolerability. We therefore examined tolerability & efficacy of paclitaxel polyglumex with capecitabine in patients with MBC.
Patients and Methods
This was a single stage phase 2 study, with interim analysis conducted with endpoints of tumor response, adverse events (toxicities), time to progression & overall survival. The main eligibility criteria were: age >18, no prior MBC chemotherapy, ECOG performance score <2, disease measurable by RECIST criteria, no HER2 overexpression or amplification, no brain metastases or peripheral sensory neuropathy. Treatment consisted of paclitaxel polyglumex 135 mg/m2 by intravenous infusion on day 1 + capecitabine 825 mg/m2 orally twice daily days 1 - 14, repeated on a 3-week cycle. Forty one (41) evaluable patients were required to test null hypothesis that complete and partial tumor response rate (CR + PR) was at most 40% against the alternative of at least 60%. Paclitaxel polyglumex + capecitabine would be considered promising in this population if ≥21 responses were observed among first 41 evaluable patients.
Results
48 patients were enrolled between April 2006 - April 2007; all patients were evaluable. The median cycles administered was 6. Eighteen (18) patients (38%; 95% CI: 24-53%) had a confirmed tumor response (2 CR, 16 PR) by RECIST criteria. Fifteen (15; 38%, 95% CI: 23%-53%) responses occurred in first 41 patients, falling short of prespecified goal of 21 responses. Median duration of tumor response was 13.2 months. Three of the responders were progression free at last follow-up with a median follow-up of 43 months. Median progression-free survival was 5.1 months (95% CI: 4.0-7.6 months). Six-month progression free survival was 42% (95% CI: 30-58%). Median dose level administered = 135 mg/m2 paclitaxel polyglumex, 825 mg/m2 capecitabine for cycles 1-7. Most common severe (grade 3/4) toxicities (at least possibly related to study drug) were: leukopenia 9 (19%), neutropenia 8 (17%), neuro-sensory 4 (8%), skin reaction-hand/foot 4 (8%), dyspnea 2 (4%). Forrty-six% (22/47) of patients experienced a grade ≥3 toxicity and 8% (4/48) experienced a grade ≥4 toxicity. No alopecia was reported.
Conclusions
Although the trial failed to reach goal of 21 confirmed tumor responses among the first 41 evaluable patients, paclitaxel polyglumex and capecitabine is well tolerated and effective in MBC.
doi:10.1097/COC.0b013e31826e0550
PMCID: PMC3593738  PMID: 23211220
23.  Telomerase peptide vaccination of patients with non-resectable pancreatic cancer: a dose escalating phase I/II study 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;95(11):1474-1482.
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.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603437
PMCID: PMC2360729  PMID: 17060934
telomerase vaccine; immunotherapy; inoperable pancreatic cancer
24.  A phase I study of the oral gamma secretase inhibitor R04929097 in combination with gemcitabine in patients with advanced solid tumors (PHL-078/CTEP 8575) 
Investigational New Drugs  2013;32(2):243-249.
Summary
Purpose To establish the recommended phase II dose of the oral γ-secretase inhibitor RO4929097 (RO) in combination with gemcitabine; secondary objectives include the evaluation of safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, biomarkers of Notch signaling and preliminary anti-tumor activity. Methods Patients with advanced solid tumors were enrolled in cohorts of escalating RO dose levels (DLs). Tested RO DLs were 20 mg, 30 mg, 45 mg and 90 mg. RO was administered orally, once daily on days 1–3, 8–10, 15–17, 22–24. Gemcitabine was administered at 1,000 mg/m2 on d1, 8, and 15 in 28 d cycles. Dose limiting toxicities (DLTs) were assessed by CTCAE v4. Serial plasma was collected for RO (total and unbound) and gemcitabine pharmacokinetic analysis. Biomarkers of Notch signaling were assessed by immunohistochemistry in archival tissue. Antitumor activity was evaluated (RECIST 1.1). Results A total of 18 patients were enrolled to establish the recommended phase II dose. Of these, 3 patients received 20 mg RO, 7 patients received 30 mg RO, 6 patients received 45 mg RO and 2 patients received 90 mg RO. DLTs were grade 3 transaminitis (30 mg RO), grade 3 transaminitis and maculopapular rash (45 mg RO), and grade 3 transaminitis and failure to receive 75 % of planned RO doses secondary to prolonged neutropenia (90 mg); all were reversible. The maximum tolerated dose was exceeded at 90 mg RO. Pharmacokinetic analysis of both total and free RO confirmed the presence of autoinduction at 45 and 90 mg. Median levels of Notch3 staining were higher in individuals who received fewer than 4 cycles (p = 0.029). Circulating angiogenic factor levels did not correlate with time to progression or ≥ grade 3 adverse events. Best response (RECIST 1.1) was partial response (nasopharyngeal cancer) and stable disease > 4 months was observed in 3 patients (pancreas, tracheal, and breast primary cancers). Conclusions RO and gemcitabine can be safely combined. The recommended phase II dose of RO was 30 mg in combination with gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m2. Although RO exposure was limited by the presence of autoinduction, RO levels achieved exceeded the area under the concentration-time curve for 0–24 h (AUC0–24) predicted for efficacy in preclinical models using daily dosing. Evidence of clinical antitumor activity and prolonged stable disease were identified.
doi:10.1007/s10637-013-9965-4
PMCID: PMC3869895  PMID: 23645447
Phase I; RO4929097; Notch inhibition; Gemcitabine
25.  Investigating the Role for IL-21 in Rabies Virus Vaccine-induced Immunity 
Over two-thirds of the world's population lives in regions where rabies is endemic, resulting in over 15 million people receiving multi-dose post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and over 55,000 deaths per year globally. A major goal in rabies virus (RABV) research is to develop a single-dose PEP that would simplify vaccination protocols, reduce costs associated with RABV prevention, and save lives. Protection against RABV infections requires virus neutralizing antibodies; however, factors influencing the development of protective RABV-specific B cell responses remain to be elucidated. Here we used a mouse model of IL-21 receptor-deficiency (IL-21R−/−) to characterize the role for IL-21 in RABV vaccine-induced immunity. IL-21R−/− mice immunized with a low dose of a live recombinant RABV-based vaccine (rRABV) produced only low levels of primary or secondary anti-RABV antibody response while wild-type mice developed potent anti-RABV antibodies. Furthermore, IL-21R−/− mice immunized with low-dose rRABV were only minimally protected against pathogenic RABV challenge, while all wild-type mice survived challenge, indicating that IL-21R signaling is required for antibody production in response to low-dose RABV-based vaccination. IL-21R−/− mice immunized with a higher dose of vaccine produced suboptimal anti-RABV primary antibody responses, but showed potent secondary antibodies and protection similar to wild-type mice upon challenge with pathogenic RABV, indicating that IL-21 is dispensable for secondary antibody responses to live RABV-based vaccines when a primary response develops. Furthermore, we show that IL-21 is dispensable for the generation of Tfh cells and memory B cells in the draining lymph nodes of immunized mice but is required for the detection of optimal GC B cells or plasma cells in the lymph node or bone marrow, respectively, in a vaccine dose-dependent manner. Collectively, our preliminary data show that IL-21 is critical for the development of optimal vaccine-induced primary but not secondary antibody responses against RABV infections.
Author Summary
Over two-thirds of the world's population lives in regions where rabies is endemic, resulting in over 15 million people receiving post-exposure treatment. A person, disproportionately a child, dies of rabies every 20 minutes and the cost of rabies prevention exceeds $1 billion US dollars per year. The development of a single-dose human rabies vaccine would greatly reduce the burden of rabies globally by lowering the cost associated with rabies vaccination and saving lives. Understanding how B cells develop to produce protective virus neutralizing antibodies would greatly help to achieve the goal of developing a single-dose vaccine. In this report, we show that IL-21 is critical for the induction of primary vaccine-induced anti-RABV G antibody titers and that the effects of IL-21 are highly dependent on the dose of vaccine administered. In our model of rabies immunogenicity and protection, the lack of IL-21 receptor influenced the detection of B cells in germinal centers in lymph nodes or of plasma cells in bone marrow after immunization with low or high doses of vaccine, respectively. Overall, these preliminary results indicate that IL-21 has the potential to influence B cell development and functions in the context of rabies vaccine-induced immunity and protection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002129
PMCID: PMC3597479  PMID: 23516660

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