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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e24167. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024167. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

CD40-activated B cell cancer vaccine improves second clinical remission and survival in privately owned dogs with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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Department of Clinical Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


Cell-based active immunotherapy for cancer is a promising novel strategy, with the first dendritic cell (DC) vaccine achieving regulatory approval for clinical use last year. Manufacturing remains arduous, especially for DC vaccines, and the prospect of using cell-based immunotherapy in the adjuvant setting or in combination with chemotherapy remains largely untested. Here, we used a comparative oncology approach to test the safety and potential efficacy of tumor RNA-loaded, CD40-activated B cells in privately owned dogs presenting with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a clinical scenario that represents not only a major problem in veterinary medicine but also a bona fide spontaneous animal model for the human condition. When administered to NHL dogs in remission after induction chemotherapy, CD40-B cells electroporated ex vivo with autologous tumor RNA safely stimulated immunity in vivo. Although chemotherapy plus CD40-B vaccination did not improve time-to-progression or lymphoma-specific survival compared to dogs treated with chemotherapy alone, vaccination potentiated the effects of salvage therapy and improved the rate of durable second remissions as well as subsequent lymphoma-specific survival following salvage therapy. Several of these relapsed dogs are now long-term survivors and free of disease for more than a year. Overall, these clinical and immunological results suggest that cell-based CD40 cancer vaccination is safe and synergizes with chemotherapy to improve clinical outcome in canine NHL. More broadly, our findings underscore the unique value of clinical investigations in tumor-bearing companion animals.

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