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Cancer Gene Ther. 2003 Jul;10(7):509-17.

Safety of intravenous administration of a canarypox virus encoding the human wild-type p53 gene in colorectal cancer patients.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Overexpression of p53 occurs in more than 50% of colorectal cancers. Therefore, p53 represents an attractive target antigen for immunotherapy. We assessed the safety of a canarypox virus encoding the human wild-type p53 gene given intravenously to end-stage colorectal cancer patients in a three-step dose escalation study aimed at inducing p53 immune responses. Patients with metastatic disease of p53-overexpressing colorectal cancers were vaccinated three times at 3-week intervals, each time with 10(6.5) CCID(50) (CCID(50)=cell culture infectious dose 50%; group 1, n=5), 10(7.0) CCID(50) (group 2, n=5) or 10(7.5) CCID(50) (group 3, n=6). Vital signs and the occurrence of adverse events were monitored and blood was analyzed for biochemical and hematological parameters as well as signs of auto-immune safety. In all, 16 patients were enrolled and 15 patients completed three vaccinations. No anaphylactic reaction or unwanted auto-immune reactions were observed. A total of 16 serious adverse events (SAEs) occurred: 10 in group 1, three in group 2 and three in group 3. All SAEs were tumor-related complications. There was no difference in the frequency of adverse events between the three groups, except for fever. Fever was the only vaccination-related adverse event consistently observed and was most frequent and outspoken in the group 3 patients. The majority was a grade 1 or 2 fever (93%) and grade 3 fever (7%) was observed in three patients of group 3. Some patients showed humoral and cellular responses against p53, following vaccinations. After having completed his initial treatment cycle, one patient (group 2) received a second treatment cycle of three doses of 10(7.5) CCID(50) and subsequently showed stable disease. All other patients showed progressive disease. We conclude that ALVAC-p53 can be administered intravenously to colorectal cancer patients without serious toxicity or pathological autoimmunity and can induce immune responses against p53.

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