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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2005 Aug;36(4):315-23.

Tumor antigen immunization of sibling stem cell transplant donors in multiple myeloma.

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Experimental and Transplantation Immunology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


The unique antigenic determinants (idiotype (Id)) of the immunoglobulin secreted by myeloma tumor can serve as a tumor-specific antigen for active immunotherapy. Our objective was to induce tumor-specific T-cell immunity in bone marrow transplant (BMT) donors to enhance antitumor effects of allografts. We vaccinated five HLA-matched sibling donors with myeloma Id proteins isolated from recipient plasma before bone marrow harvest. Recipients were administered booster Id immunizations following transplantation. Vaccination induced donor Id and carrier-specific cellular and/or humoral immune responses. Two recipients died within 30 days of BMT from transplant-related complications. Id and carrier-specific T-cell responses were detected in all three remaining patients post-, but not pre-BMT and persisted for 18 months. All three surviving patients converted from partial to complete responses following BMT. Two of the three patients remain disease-free 7 years and 8 years after BMT, and the third died of renal failure after 5.5 years while in complete remission from myeloma. Our results suggest that myeloma Id vaccination induces specific T-cell immunity in healthy donors which may be transferable by BMT, is associated with prolonged disease-free survival of recipients, and may represent a general strategy to enhance graft-versus-tumor effect in other malignancies for which defined tumor-specific antigens exist.

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