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Mol Ther. 2012 Mar;20(3):679-86. doi: 10.1038/mt.2011.269. Epub 2011 Dec 20.

Phase I trial of "bi-shRNAi(furin)/GMCSF DNA/autologous tumor cell" vaccine (FANG) in advanced cancer.

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Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers, Dallas, Texas 75201, USA.


We performed a phase I trial of FANG vaccine, an autologous tumor-based product incorporating a plasmid encoding granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GMCSF) and a novel bifunctional short hairpin RNAi (bi-shRNAi) targeting furin convertase, thereby downregulating endogenous immunosuppressive transforming growth factors (TGF) β1 and β2. Patients with advanced cancer received up to 12 monthly intradermal injections of FANG vaccine (1 × 10(7) or 2.5 × 10(7) cells/ml injection). GMCSF, TGFβ1, TGFβ2, and furin proteins were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Safety and response were monitored. Vaccine manufacturing was successful in 42 of 46 patients of whom 27 received ≥1 vaccine. There were no treatment-related serious adverse events. Most common grade 1, 2 adverse events included local induration (n = 14) and local erythema (n = 11) at injection site. Post-transfection mean product expression GMCSF increased from 7.3 to 1,108 pg/10(6) cells/ml. Mean TGFβ1 and β2 effective target knockdown was 93.5 and 92.5% from baseline, respectively. Positive enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) response at month 4 was demonstrated in 9 of 18 patients serially assessed and correlated with survival duration from time of treatment (P = 0.025). Neither dose-adverse event nor dose-response relationship was noted. In conclusion, FANG vaccine was safe and elicited an immune response correlating with prolonged survival. Phase II assessment is justified.

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