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Cancer Res. 1992 Dec 15;52(24):6917-25.

Immunogenicity and safety of a recombinant vaccinia virus vaccine expressing the carcinoembryonic antigen gene in a nonhuman primate.

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Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


We have previously reported the development of a recombinant vaccinia virus vaccine expressing the human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) gene, designated rV(NYC)-CEA. This construct has been shown to elicit specific anti-CEA immune responses and an antitumor effect in a murine tumor model. In the studies reported here, the safety and immunogenicity of this recombinant vaccinia virus were evaluated in a rhesus monkey model. Human CEA is a M(r) 180,000 glycoprotein expressed in approximately 90% of gastrointestinal carcinomas and in some breast and non-small cell lung carcinomas. This family also includes normal cross-reacting antigen (NCA). Rhesus monkeys, like humans, have some NCA on the surface of their granulocytes. Eight monkeys were immunized 3 or 4 times by skin scarification with the recombinant CEA vaccine and four monkeys received wild-type vaccinia virus as control. After three vaccinations, all rV(NYC)-CEA-vaccinated animals exhibited a strong anti-CEA antibody response as measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The functional ability of these antibodies to mediate lysis of a CEA-bearing tumor cell was demonstrated using human effector cells. This response could be enhanced by interleukin 2. Cellular immunity to CEA was measured by delayed-type hypersensitivity upon intradermal challenge with purified CEA. Only those animals receiving the recombinant vaccine displayed significant anti-CEA responses. Furthermore, peripheral blood mononuclear cells from immunized monkeys were found to proliferate in response to CEA stimulation. All vaccinated monkeys developed local skin irritation at the site of the vaccination, regional lymphadenopathy, and low-grade fevers after immunization. Following immunization with rV(NYC)-CEA, the response was consistent with the usual constitutional symptoms seen with human smallpox virus immunization. Blood counts, differentials, and hepatic and renal chemistries remained normal in all animals throughout the study and for up to 1 year following the primary vaccination. No evidence of immunological cross-reactivity to NCA was found by either a fall in the granulocyte count or analyses for anti-NCA antibodies. Thus, the rV(NYC)-CEA vaccine appears to be safe in rhesus monkeys. The administration of a CEA recombinant vaccine to rhesus monkeys induces both a humoral and a cell-mediated immune response directed against human CEA.

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