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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2007 May;56(5):659-75. Epub 2006 Sep 1.

T cell responses in melanoma patients after vaccination with tumor-mRNA transfected dendritic cells.

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Section for Immunotherapy, Department of Immunology, Cancer Research Institute, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


We have developed an individualized melanoma vaccine based on autologous dendritic cells (DCs) transfected with autologous tumor-mRNA. The vaccine targets the unique spectrum of tumor antigens in each patient and may recruit multiple T cell clones. In a recent phase I/II trial, we demonstrated T cell responses against vaccine antigens in 9/19 patients evaluable by T cell assays. Here, we report a follow-up study that was conducted to characterize interesting T cell responses and to investigate the effects of long-term booster vaccination. Two patients were selected for continued vaccine therapy. The clinical follow-up suggested a favorable clinical development in both patients. The immunological data (T cell proliferation/IFNgamma ELISPOT/Bioplex cytokine assays) indicated sustained T cell responses and suggested an enhancing effect of booster vaccinations. Both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell responses were demonstrated. From post-vaccination samples, we generated 39 T cell clones that responded specifically to stimulation by mRNA-transfected DCs and 12 clones that responded to mock-transfected DCs. These data clearly indicate a two-component vaccine response, against transfected and non-transfected antigens. T cell receptor (TCR) clonotype mapping, performed on 11 tDC-specific clones, demonstrated that 10/11 clones had different TCRs. The results thus indicate a broad spectrum T cell response against antigens encoded by the transfected tumor-mRNA. We generally observed mixed Th1/Th2 cytokine profiles, even in T cell clones that were confirmed to be derived from a single cell. This finding suggests that cytokine patterns after cancer vaccination may be more complex than indicated by the classic Th1/Th2 dichotomy.

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