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BACKGROUND: Safety and cellular immunogenicity of rising doses and varying regimens of a poly-epitope vaccine were evaluated in advanced metastatic melanoma. The vaccine comprised plasmid DNA and recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) both expressing a string (Mel3) of seven HLA.A2/A1 epitopes from five melanoma antigens. METHODS: Forty-one HLA-A2 positive patients with stage III/IV melanoma were enrolled. Patient groups received one or two doses of DNA.Mel3 followed by escalating doses of MVA.Mel3. Immunisations then continued eight weekly in the absence of disease progression. Epitope-specific CD8+ T cell responses were evaluated using ex-vivo tetramer and IFN-gamma ELISPOT assays. Safety and clinical responses were monitored. RESULTS: Prime-boost DNA/MVA induced Melan-A-specific CD8+ T cell responses in 22/31 (71%) patients detected by tetramer assay. ELISPOT detected a response to at least one epitope in 10/31 (32%) patients. T cell responder rates were <50% with low-dose DNA/MVA, or MVA alone, rising to 91% with high-dose DNA/MVA. Among eight patients showing evidence of clinical benefit-one PR (24 months+), five SD (5 months+) and two mixed responses-seven had associated immune responses. Melan-A-tetramer+ immunity was associated with a median 8-week increase in time-to-progression (P = 0.037) and 71 week increase in survival (P = 0.0002) compared to non-immunity. High-dose vaccine was well tolerated. The only significant toxicities were flu-like symptoms and injection-site reactions. CONCLUSIONS: DNA.Mel3 and MVA.Mel3 in a prime-boost protocol generated high rates of immune response to melanoma antigen epitopes. The treatment was well tolerated and the correlation of immune responses with patient outcomes encourages further investigation.

Original publication

DOI

10.1007/s00262-009-0811-7

Type

Journal article

Journal

Cancer immunol immunother

Publication Date

06/2010

Volume

59

Pages

863 - 873

Keywords

Adult, Aged, Antigens, Neoplasm, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cancer Vaccines, Disease Progression, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, Female, HLA-A2 Antigen, Humans, Immunization, Secondary, Interferon-gamma, Lymphocyte Activation, MART-1 Antigen, Male, Melanoma, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Metastasis, Neoplasm Proteins, Neoplasm Staging, Survival Analysis, Vaccinia virus