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J Clin Oncol. 2000 Dec 1;18(23):3964-73.

Phase I study in advanced cancer patients of a diversified prime-and-boost vaccination protocol using recombinant vaccinia virus and recombinant nonreplicating avipox virus to elicit anti-carcinoembryonic antigen immune responses.

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  • 1Georgetown University Medical Center, Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA. marshallj@gunet.georgetown.edu



This trial sought to determine, for the first time, the validity in human vaccinations of using two different recombinant vaccines in diversified prime-and-boost regimens to enhance T-cell responses to a tumor antigen.


Eighteen patients with advanced tumors expressing carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) were randomized to receive either recombinant vaccinia (rV)-CEA followed by three avipox-CEA vaccinations, or avipox-CEA (three times) followed by one rV-CEA vaccination. Subsequent vaccinations in both cohorts were with avipox-CEA. Immunologic monitoring was performed using a CEA peptide and the enzyme-linked immunospot assay for interferon gamma production.


rV-CEA followed by avipox-CEA was superior to the reverse order in the generation of CEA-specific T-cell responses. Further increases in CEA-specific T-cell precursors were seen when local granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and low-dose interleukin (IL)-2 were given with subsequent vaccinations. The treatment was extremely well tolerated. Limited clinical activity was seen using vaccines alone in this patient population. Antibody production against CEA was also observed in some of the treated patients.


rV-CEA was more effective in its role as a primer of the immune system; avipox-CEA could be given up to eight times with continued increases in CEA T-cell precursors. Future trials should use rV-CEA first followed by avipox-CEA. Vaccines specific to CEA are able to generate CEA-specific T-cell responses in patients without significant toxicity. T-cell responses using vaccines alone may be inadequate to generate significant anticancer objective responses in patients with advanced disease. Cytokines such as GM-CSF and IL-2 may play a key role in generating such responses.

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