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Cancer Res. 1988 Oct 15;48(20):5883-93.

Active specific immunotherapy for melanoma: phase I trial of allogeneic lysates and a novel adjuvant.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033.


A Phase I trial of active specific immunotherapy for melanoma was performed to measure the toxicity and immunological effects of the therapy. A mixture of mechanical lysates (homogenates) of two melanoma cell lines was injected together with a novel adjuvant, DETOX, into 22 patients. Several types of cell-mediated and humoral immunity to melanoma-associated antigens were measured serially. In the 17 patients with measurable disease, the sizes of lesions were also noted serially. At least six patients per group were injected s.c. with either 100, 200, or 400 antigenic units (approximately 10, 20, and 40 million tumor cell-equivalents) of the lysates mixed with 0.25 ml of DETOX s.c. on weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. Three patients at each dose level also received 300 mg/m2 of cyclophosphamide i.v. 4 days before the start of immunization. Evidence for successful immunization was obtained in 13 of the 22 patients. An increase in the frequency of peripheral blood cytolytic lymphocyte precursors reacting against melanoma cells occurred in 12 patients, as measured by a limiting dilution assay involving in vitro re-exposure to irradiated melanoma cells for 9-10 days. Eight of the 12 patients had received cyclophosphamide. By cold-target competition assays, these cytolytic lymphocytes appeared to be atypical T-cells, which recognized melanoma-associated antigens on several allogeneic lines without apparent major histocompatibility complex restriction. An increase in antibody titers against melanoma-associated antigens, measured by enzyme immunoassay, was found in five of 22 patients, and a change in delayed hypersensitivity against the melanoma lysate, in three patients. Responses were found at all three dosage levels of lysate, without an obvious dose optimum. No toxicity except minor local soreness was noted. Therefore, no maximum tolerable dose was defined. Five of 17 patients with measurable lesions had a remission of their melanoma, two complete and three partial, with three additional minor responses. A patient whose complete remission lasted 5.5 months, has no evidence of disease 22+ months after entry onto the study, with the aid of surgical resection of small s.c. recurrences on two separate occasions. Sites of regression included s.c. nodules, lymph nodes, and pulmonary nodules, with no responses in liver, adrenal gland, or bone. The patients who had an increase in cytolytic lymphocyte precursors comprised all eight with a clinical remission (five major, three minor). In contrast, none of the seven patients lacking an increase in cytotoxic lymphocytes had a clinical response.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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