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Blood. 2009 Feb 19;113(8):1651-60. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-07-168666. Epub 2008 Dec 12.

Peripheral blood lymphocytes genetically modified to express the self/tumor antigen MAGE-A3 induce antitumor immune responses in cancer patients.

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Cancer Gene Therapy Unit, Cancer Immunotherapy and Gene Therapy Program, Department of Oncology, Scientific Institute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.


Dendritic cell (DC) targeting in vivo has recently been shown to confer strong and protective cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-based immunity in tumor murine models. Our group has recently demonstrated in preclinical models that the infusion of genetically modified lymphocytes (GMLs) expressing the self/tumor antigen TRP-2 is able to elicit functional TRP-2-specific effectors with antitumor activity by targeting DCs in vivo. Here we have analyzed vaccine- and tumor-specific immune responses of 10 melanoma patients treated with autologous GMLs expressing the cancer germline gene MAGE-A3. Three of 10 patients treated with MAGE-A3-GML showed an increase of circulating anti-MAGE-A3 T cells, and developed skin delayed-type hypersensitivity to MAGE-A3. Interestingly, in 2 of these patients, with progressive and measurable tumors at study entry, anti-MAGE-A3 T cells were detected not only in the blood but also within tumors resected after vaccination. These results demonstrate that the infusion of MAGE-A3-GML elicits antitumor T cells, which are capable of trafficking to inflamed tissues and of infiltrating tumors. Clinical studies on a larger group of patients are needed to evaluate the clinical efficacy of such a strategy.

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