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J Immunother. 2003 May-Jun;26(3):277-85.

Serum total ganglioside level correlates with clinical course in melanoma patients after immunotherapy with therapeutic cancer vaccine.

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Laboratory of GlycolImmunotherapy, John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center, Santa Monica, California 90404, USA.


The authors tested the hypothesis that the therapeutic destruction of residual tumors may be reflected in the level of serum total gangliosides (sTG). The sTG level was evaluated in 17 patients with in-transit melanoma and 70 patients with resected regional node metastasis, who have received a polyvalent therapeutic melanoma cell vaccine. The treatment response was determined by regression of in-transit metastases or by overall survival after resection. sTG levels were measured, blinded, before and after immunotherapy. The mean sTG level of the in-transit melanoma patients increased from 18.57 +/- 3.18 mg/dL pretreatment to 23.7 +/- 5.5 mg/dL between weeks 2 and 16 after initiation of treatment (p(2) < 0.0001). By week 24, the level had returned to its prevaccine level in the seven clinical responders (18.1 +/- 2.3 mg/dL vs. 20.4 +/- 3.2 mg/dL; p(2) < 0.050) but remained higher than its prevaccine level in the 10 nonresponders (23.3 +/- 5.1 mg/dl vs. 17.2 +/- 2.7 mg/dL). Similarly, the sTG level of the patients with nodal metastases increased between weeks 2 and 16 after the first vaccine treatment; by week 24, it had returned to pretreatment level in patients who survived more than 56 weeks but remained significantly elevated (p(2) < 0.01) in patients who survived less than 56 weeks. The sTG level increased between weeks 2 and 16 in all vaccine recipients and returned to prevaccine level by week 24 in all who showed measurable regression of in-transit melanoma (7 of 17 patients) or improved overall survival (53 of 70 patients). The data suggest that sTG level could be a potential tool for assessing the response to immunotherapy in melanoma patients by week 24.

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