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Oncoimmunology. 2016 Oct 18;5(11):e1232237. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2016.1232237. eCollection 2016.

Immune response and long-term clinical outcome in advanced melanoma patients vaccinated with tumor-mRNA-transfected dendritic cells.

Author information

1
Department for Cell Therapy, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; The Clinical Trial Unit, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Department of Immunology, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
2
The Clinical Trial Unit, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital , Oslo, Norway.
3
Department for Cell Therapy, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital , Oslo, Norway.
4
Department for Radiology, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital , Oslo, Norway.
5
Department of Public Health and General Practice, NTNU , Trondheim, Norway.
6
Department of Immunology, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital , Oslo, Norway.

Abstract

The most effective anticancer immune responses are probably directed against patient-specific neoantigens. We have developed a melanoma vaccine targeting this individual mutanome based on dendritic cells (DCs) loaded with autologous tumor-mRNA. Here, we report a phase I/II trial evaluating toxicity, immune response and clinical outcome in 31 metastatic melanoma patients. The first cohort (n = 22) received the vaccine without any adjuvant; the next cohort (n = 9) received adjuvant IL2. Each subject received four weekly intranodal or intradermal injections, followed by optional monthly vaccines. Immune response was evaluated by delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), T cell proliferation and cytokine assays. Data were collected for 10 y after inclusion of the last patient. No serious adverse events were detected. In the intention-to-treat-cohort, we demonstrated significantly superior survival compared to matched controls from a benchmark meta-analysis (1 y survival 43% vs. 24%, 2 y 23% vs. 6.6%). A tumor-specific immune response was demonstrated in 16/31 patients. The response rate was higher after intradermal than intranodal vaccination (80% vs. 38%). Immune responders had improved survival compared to non-responders (median 14 mo vs. 6 mo; p = 0.030), and all eight patients surviving >20 mo were immune responders. In addition to the tumor-specific response, most patients developed a response against autologous DC antigens. The cytokine profile was polyfunctional and did not follow a Th1/Th2 dichotomy. We conclude that the favorable safety profile and evidence of a possible survival benefit warrant further studies of the RNA/DC vaccine. The vaccine appears insufficient as monotherapy, but there is a strong rationale for combination with checkpoint modulators.

KEYWORDS:

Cancer vaccine; T cell; clinical outcome; dendritic cell; mRNA; melanoma; survival

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