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Ann Oncol. 2018 May 1;29(5):1312-1319. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdy089.

Combined immunotherapy encompassing intratumoral poly-ICLC, dendritic-cell vaccination and radiotherapy in advanced cancer patients.

Author information

Department of Oncology, Clínica Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona.
Centro de Investigación Médica Aplicada (CIMA), Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona.
CIBERONC, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Cáncer, Madrid.
Navarra Health Research Insititute (IDISNA), Pamplona.
Departments of Immunology.
Physics, Clínica Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
Immunobiology Department, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, USA.
Department of Pathology, Clínica Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
Oncovir, Washington, USA.



Combination immunotherapy has the potential to achieve additive or synergistic effects. Combined local injections of dsRNA analogues (mimicking viral RNA) and repeated vaccinations with tumor-lysate loaded dendritic cells shows efficacy against colon cancer mouse models. In the context of immunotherapy, radiotherapy can exert beneficial abscopal effects.

Patients and methods:

In this two-cohort pilot phase I study, 15 advanced cancer patients received two 4-week cycles of four intradermal daily doses of monocyte-derived dendritic cells preloaded with autologous tumor lysate and matured for 24 h with poly-ICLC (Hiltonol), TNF-α and IFN-α. On days +8 and +10 of each cycle, patients received intratumoral image-guided 0.25 mg injections of the dsRNA-analogue Hiltonol. Cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m2 was administered 1 week before. Six patients received stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) on selected tumor lesions, including those injected with Hiltonol. Expression of 25 immune-relevant genes was sequentially monitored by RT-PCR on circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMCs) and serum concentrations of a cytokine panel were sequentially determined before and during treatment. Pre- and post-treatment PBMC from patients achieving durable stable disease (SD) were studied by IFNγ ELISPOT-assays responding to tumor-lysate loaded DC and by TCRβ sequencing.


Combined treatment was, safe and well tolerated. One heavily pretreated castration-resistant prostate cancer patient experienced a remarkable mixed abscopal response to SABR+ immunotherapy. No objective responses were observed, while nine patients presented SD (five of them in the six-patient radiotherapy cohort). Intratumoral Hiltonol increased IFN-β and IFN-α mRNA in circulating PBMC. DC vaccination increased serum IL-12 and IL-1β concentrations, especially in patients presenting SD. IFNγ-ELISPOT reactivity to tumor lysates was observed in two patients experiencing durable SD.


This radio-immunotherapy combination strategy, aimed at resembling viral infection in tumor tissue in combination with a dendritic-cell vaccine and SABR, is safe and shows immune-associated activity and signs of preliminary clinical efficacy.


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