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Cancer Gene Ther. 2008 Oct;15(10):676-84. doi: 10.1038/cgt.2008.35. Epub 2008 Jun 6.

Phase I trial of DNA-hsp65 immunotherapy for advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

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HSP65 Clinical Trial Group, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Considering that mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65 (hsp65) gene transfer can elicit a profound antitumoral effect, this study aimed to establish the safety, maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) and preliminary efficacy of DNA-hsp65 immunotherapy in patients with advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). For this purpose, 21 patients with unresectable and recurrent HNSCC were studied. Each patient received three ultrasound-guided injections at 21-day intervals of: 150, 600 or 400 microg of DNA-hsp65. Toxicity was graded according to CTCAE directions. Tumor volume was measured before and after treatment using computed tomography scan. The evaluation included tumor mass variation, delayed-type hypersensitivity response and spontaneous peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation before and after treatment. The MTD was 400 microg per dose. DNA-hsp65 immunotherapy was well tolerated with moderate pain, edema and infections as the most frequent adverse effects. None of the patients showed clinical or laboratory alterations compatible with autoimmune reactions. Partial response was observed in 4 out of 14 patients who completed treatment, 2 of which are still alive more than 3 years after the completion of the trial. Therefore, DNA-hsp65 immunotherapy is a feasible and safe approach at the dose of 400 microg per injection in patients with HNSCC refractory to standard treatment. Further studies in a larger number of patients are needed to confirm the efficacy of this novel strategy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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