Article

Topical TLR7 Agonist Imiquimod Can Induce Immune-Mediated Rejection of Skin Metastases in Patients with Breast Cancer

Medicine, NYU School of Medicine.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.19). 07/2012; 18(24). DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-1149
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT PURPOSE: Skin metastases of breast cancer remain a therapeutic challenge. Toll-like receptor 7 agonist imiquimod is an immune response modifier and can induce immune-mediated rejection of primary skin malignancies when topically applied. Here we tested the hypothesis that topical imiquimod stimulates local anti-tumor immunity and induces the regression of breast cancer skin metastases.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: A prospective clinical trial was designed to evaluate the local tumor response rate of breast cancer skin metastases treated with topical imiquimod, applied 5 days/week for 8 weeks. Safety and immunological correlates were secondary objectives.RESULTS: Ten patients were enrolled and completed the study. Imiquimod treatment was well tolerated, with only grade 1-2 transient local and systemic side effects consistent with imiquimod's immunomodulatory effects. Two patients achieved a partial response (20%; 95% CI 3% - 56%). Responders showed histological tumor regression with evidence of an immune-mediated response, demonstrated by changes in the tumor lymphocytic infiltrate and locally produced cytokines. CONCLUSIONS: Topical imiquimod is a beneficial treatment modality for breast cancer metastatic to skin/chest wall and is well tolerated. Importantly, imiquimod can promote a pro-immunogenic tumor microenvironment in breast cancer. Preclinical data generated by our group suggest even superior results with a combination of imiquimod and ionizing radiation and we are currently testing in patients whether the combination can further improve anti-tumor immune and clinical responses.

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