Maria Spassova

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, NY, United States

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Publications (15)111.29 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: EGFR is a major anticancer drug target in human epithelial tumors. One effective class of agents is the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), such as gefitinib and erlotinib. These drugs induce dramatic responses in individuals with lung adenocarcinomas characterized by mutations in exons encoding the EGFR tyrosine kinase domain, but disease progression invariably occurs. A major reason for such acquired resistance is the outgrowth of tumor cells with additional TKI-resistant EGFR mutations. Here we used relevant transgenic mouse lung tumor models to evaluate strategies to overcome the most common EGFR TKI resistance mutation, T790M. We treated mice bearing tumors harboring EGFR mutations with a variety of anticancer agents, including a new irreversible EGFR TKI that is under development (BIBW-2992) and the EGFR-specific antibody cetuximab. Surprisingly, we found that only the combination of both agents together induced dramatic shrinkage of erlotinib-resistant tumors harboring the T790M mutation, because together they efficiently depleted both phosphorylated and total EGFR. We suggest that these studies have immediate therapeutic implications for lung cancer patients, as dual targeting with cetuximab and a second-generation EGFR TKI may be an effective strategy to overcome T790M-mediated drug resistance. Moreover, this approach could serve as an important model for targeting other receptor tyrosine kinases activated in human cancers.
    The Journal of clinical investigation 09/2009; 119(10):3000-10. · 15.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A fully synthetic anticancer vaccine 2 has been prepared via bioconjugation of unimolecular pentavalent construct 1-containing five prostate and breast cancer associated carbohydrate antigens, Globo-H, GM2, STn, TF and Tn-to maleimide-modified carrier protein KLH. An improved conjugation protocol has been developed, which allowed us to obtain a higher epitope ratio of the unimolecular pentavalent glycopeptide antigen to the carrier protein (505/1 versus 228/1 for the previous version). KLH conjugate 2 has been subsequently submitted to preclinical immunogenic evaluation in mice in the presence of QS-21 as an adjuvant. Through standard ELISA assay, this vaccine candidate showed high promise in inducing IgG and IgM antibodies against each of the five individual carbohydrate antigens. In addition, FACS analysis indicated that these antibodies were able to react with MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines expressing these five carbohydrate antigens.
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 07/2009; 131(26):9298-303. · 10.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To characterize the safety and immunogenicity of a heptavalent antigen-keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) plus QS21 vaccine construct in patients with epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer in second or greater complete clinical remission. Eleven patients in this pilot trial received a heptavalent vaccine s.c. containing GM2 (10 microg), Globo-H (10 microg), Lewis Y (10 microg), Tn(c) (3 microg), STn(c) (3 microg), TF(c) (3 microg), and Tn-MUC1 (3 microg) individually conjugated to KLH and mixed with adjuvant QS21(100 microg). Vaccinations were administered at weeks 1, 2, 3, 7, and 15. Periodic blood and urine samples were obtained to monitor safety (complete blood count, comprehensive panel, amylase, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and urinalysis) and antibody production (ELISA, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and complement-dependent cytotoxicity). Eleven patients were included in the safety analysis; 9 of 11 patients remained on study for at least 2 weeks past fourth vaccination and were included in the immunologic analysis (two withdrew, disease progression). The vaccine was well tolerated. Self-limited and mild fatigue (maximum grade 2 in two patients), fever, myalgia, and localized injection site reactions were most frequent. No clinically relevant hematologic abnormalities were noted. No clinical or laboratory evidence of autoimmunity was seen. Serologic responses by ELISA were largely IgM against each antigen with the exception of Tn-MUC1 where both IgM and IgG responses were induced. Antibody responses were generally undetectable before immunization. After immunization, median IgM titers were as follows: Tn-MUC1, 1:640 (IgG 1:80); Tn, 1:160; TF, 1:640; Globo-H, 1:40; and STn, 1:80. Only one response was seen against Lewis Y; two were against GM2. Eight of nine patients developed responses against at least three antigens. Antibody titers peaked at weeks 4 to 8 in all patients. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting and complement-dependent cytotoxicity analysis showed substantially increased reactivity against MCF7 cells in seven of nine patients, with some increase seen in all patients. This heptavalent-KLH conjugate plus QS21 vaccine safely induced antibody responses against five of seven antigens. Investigation in an adequately powered efficacy trial is warranted.
    Clinical Cancer Research 08/2007; 13(14):4170-7. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several novel, fully synthetic, carbohydrate-based antitumor vaccines have been assembled. Each construct consists of multiple cancer-related antigens displayed on a single polypeptide backbone. Recent advances in synthetic methodology have allowed for the incorporation of a complex oligosaccharide terminating in a sialic acid residue (i.e., GM2) as one of the carbohydrate antigens. Details of the vaccine synthesis as well as the results of preliminary immunological investigations are described herein.
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 04/2006; 128(8):2715-25. · 10.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: GPI-0100 is a semi-synthetic saponin with modifications designed to augment stability and diminish toxicity. Two batches of GPI-0100 (the second with higher purity) were tested with doses ranging between 100 and 5000 microg in groups of five treated prostate cancer patients who had no evidence of disease except for rising PSA levels. GPI-0100 was mixed with a bivalent vaccine containing the glycolipid Globo H and the glycosylated mucin MUC2 conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). All doses were well tolerated and antibody titers against Globo H and MUC-2 escalated with the increasing dose levels. At the 5000 microg dose level in this patient population, toxicity remained minimal with only occasional grade II local toxicity at vaccination sites and occasional sporadic grade I elevations in ALT. Compared with a subsequent trial with the same bivalent vaccine plus QS-21 at the maximal tolerated dose of 100 microg, the 5000 microg dose of GPI-0100 produced comparable antibody titers.
    Vaccine 06/2005; 23(24):3114-22. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: [structure: see text] As part of our ongoing anticancer vaccine program, we recently found that antibodies generated in response to the KH-1-KLH construct recognized not only KH-1 antigen but also the Lewis Y (Le(y)) antigen as well, with antibody titer levels much higher than those observed after immunization with individual Le(y)-KLH vaccine constructs. In an attempt to explore the structure-antigenic relationship of these carbohydrate epitopes, several analogues of both KH-1 and Le(y) were synthesized. A convergent synthetic approach to the analogues was designed on the basis of well-established glycal methodology, employing a minimum number of building blocks to generate competent antigens with high stereoselectivity and reasonable yield.
    The Journal of Organic Chemistry 05/2005; 70(9):3383-95. · 4.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previously using a series of monovalent vaccines, we demonstrated that the optimal method for inducing an antibody response against cancer cell-surface antigens is covalent conjugation of the antigens to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and the use of a saponin adjuvant. We have prepared a heptavalent-KLH conjugate vaccine containing the seven epithelial cancer antigens GM2, Globo H, Lewis(y), TF(c), Tn(c), STn(c), and glycosylated MUC1. In preparation for testing this vaccine in the clinic, we tested the impact on antibody induction of administering the individual conjugates plus adjuvant compared with a mixture of the seven conjugates plus adjuvant, and of several variables thought to augment immunogenicity. These include approaches for decreasing suppressor cell activity or increasing helper T-lymphocyte activity (low dose cyclophosphamide or anti-CTLA-4 MAb), different saponin adjuvants at various doses (QS-21 and GPI-0100), and different methods of formulation (lyophilization and use of polysorbate 80). We find that: (1). Immunization with the heptavalent-KLH conjugate plus GPI-0100 vaccine induces antibodies against the seven antigens of comparable titer to those induced by the individual-KLH conjugate vaccines, high titers of antibodies against Tn (median ELISA titer IgM/IgG 320/10240), STn (640/5120), TF (320/10240), MUC1 (80/20480), and globo H (640/40); while lower titers of antibodies against Lewis(y)()(160/0) and only occasional antibodies against GM2 are induced. (2). These antibodies reacted with the purified synthetic antigens by ELISA, and with naturally expressed antigens on the cancer cell surface by FACS. (3). None of the approaches for further altering the suppressor cell/helper T-cell balance nor changes to the standard formulation by lyophilization or use of polysorbate 80 had any impact on antibody titers. (4). An optimal dose of saponin adjuvant, QS-21 (50 microg) or GPI-0100 (1000 microg), is required for optimal antibody titers. This heptavalent vaccine is sufficiently optimized for testing in the clinic.
    Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy 11/2003; 52(10):608-16. · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Antigens such as ganglioside GD3, neutral glycolipid Lewis(y) (Le(y)) and mucins MUC1 and MUC2 are over-expressed on the cell surface of many tumors. We have shown previously that conjugation of antigens such as these to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and the use of immunological adjuvant QS-21 is the optimal approach for inducing high titer IgM and IgG antibodies. These antibodies are able to bind with natural antigens on the tumor cell surface and mediate complement dependent cytotoxicity and/or antibody dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity. Immunization of patients with monovalent vaccines containing these and a variety of other antigens have demonstrated both the consistent immunogenicity and the safety of these vaccines. Now, in preparation for the use of polyvalent conjugate vaccines in the clinic, we have addressed for the first time with conjugate vaccines against cancer antigens several questions in the pre-clinical setting, including whether immunogenicity of the individual components is decreased in the polyvalent vaccine and issues relating to vaccine formulation and administration. We have immunized groups of mice with GD3-KLH, Le(y)-KLH, MUC1-KLH and MUC2-KLH conjugates and QS-21 separately or mixed and administered at one or four sites. High titer IgM and IgG antibodies were induced against each of the four antigens whether administered singly in separate mice, at separate sites in the same mice, or mixed and administered at a single site or at four sites, or administered subcutaneously (s.c.) or intraperitoneally (i.p.). These antibodies reacted specifically with the respective antigens and tumor cells expressing these antigens. There was no evidence of suppression of the antibody response against any one of the antigens by the presence of the other conjugates in the vaccine. Immunogenicity of the four individual antigens conjugated to KLH and QS-21 is not affected by mixing the four together and administering them at a single subcutaneous site.
    Vaccine 02/2002; 20(7-8):1030-8. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The total syntheses of 12,13,15-desoxy-15(S)-aza-epothilone B (aza-dEpoB; dEpoB-lactam) and 12,13,15-desoxy-15(R)-aza-epothilone B (15-epi-aza-dEpoB; 15-epi-dEpoB-lactam) have been accomplished via a highly convergent strategy. We have also successfully oxidized 12,13,15-desoxy-15(S)-aza-epothilone B to aza-epothilone B (aza-EpoB; EpoB-lactam). Aza-epothilone B has been advanced to phase I clinical trials by the Bristol-Myers Squibb group. Our synthesis is efficient and was amenable to the production of significant quantities of these lactams. Using our fully synthetically derived lactams, in vitro and in vivo studies were conducted in comparison with advanced clinical candidates, 12,13-desoxyepothilone B and 12,13-desoxyepothilone F, also derived by total synthesis.
    The Journal of Organic Chemistry 07/2001; 66(12):4369-78. · 4.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The carbohydrate antigen globo H commonly found on breast cancer cells is a potential target for vaccine therapy. The objectives of this trial were to determine the toxicity and immunogenicity of three synthetic globo H-keyhole limpet hemocyanin conjugates plus the immunologic adjuvant QS-21. Twenty-seven metastatic breast cancer patients received five vaccinations each. The vaccine was well tolerated, and no definite differences were observed among the three formulations. Serologic analyses demonstrated the generation of IgM antibody titers in most patients, with minimal IgG antibody stimulation. There was significant binding of IgM antibodies to MCF-7 tumor cells in 16 patients, whereas IgG antibody reactivity was observed in a few patients. There was evidence of complement-dependent cytotoxicity in several patients. Affinity column purification supported the specificity of IgM antibodies for globo H. On the basis of these data, globo H will constitute one component of a polyvalent vaccine for evaluation in high-risk breast cancer patients.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2001; 98(6):3270-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As the initial step in developing carbohydrate-based vaccines for the treatment of ovarian cancer patients in an adjuvant setting, 25 patients were immunized with a Lewis(y) pentasaccharide (Le(y))-keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH)-conjugate vaccine together with the immunological adjuvant QS-21. Four different doses of the vaccine, containing 3, 10, 30, and 60 microg of carbohydrate were administered s.c. at 0, 1, 2, 3, 7, and 19 weeks to groups of 6 patients. Sera taken from the patients at regular intervals were assayed by ELISA for reactivity with naturally occurring forms of Le(y) (Le(y)-ceramide and Le(y) mucin) and by flow cytometry and a complement-dependent cytoxicity assay for reactivity with Le(y)-expressing tumor cells. The majority of the patients (16/24) produced anti-Le(y) antibodies as assessed by ELISA, and a proportion of these had strong anti-tumor cell reactivity as assessed by flow cytometry and complement-dependent cytotoxicity. One serum, analyzed in detail, was shown to react with glycolipids but not with glycoproteins or mucins expressed by ovarian cancer cell line OVCAR-3. The vaccine was well tolerated and no gastrointestinal, hematologic, renal, or hepatic toxicity related to the vaccine was observed. On the basis of this study, Le(y)-KLH should be a suitable component for a polyvalent vaccine under consideration for the therapy of epithelial cancers.
    International Journal of Cancer 08/2000; 87(1):79-85. · 6.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have previously reported on a carbohydrate-based vaccine program for immunotherapy in cancer patients. One such vaccine, based on the globo H antigen conjugated to the protein keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), has been in clinical evaluation. Although this and other carbohydrate vaccines have been shown to induce antibody responses, there are currently no quantitative data on the antibody levels achieved in immunized patients by these or other anti-cancer vaccines. We report herein an efficient route to complex synthetic oligosaccharides attached to an affinity matrix for identifying and isolating antibodies elicited against such a carbohydrate-based vaccine in humans. Pre- and postvaccination profiles from serum samples of patients immunized with globo H-KLH were compared. All anti-globo H antibody activity was efficiently separated from other serum constituents. The isolated antibodies were readily quantified, and their specificities were analyzed. Since no comparable data were available on antibodies resulting from the vaccination of other cancer patients, we compared the observed levels with those quoted in studies with bacterial polysaccharide vaccines that had been quantified. Remarkably, cancer patients immunized with globo H-KLH produce anti-globo H antibody levels often exceeding those formed by immunization with bacterial polysaccharides. In addition, substantial quantities of both IgG and IgM antibodies were elicited, clearly indicating a class switch to IgG. Taken together, these analyses serve to clarify several aspects of the immune response to the vaccine and give several new insights to the carbohydrate-based vaccination strategy. Furthermore, antibodies so isolated could well have applications in clinical therapy.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2000; 97(6):2719-24. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The complex carbohydrate molecule globo H hexasaccharide has been synthesized, conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin, and administered with the immunologic adjuvant QS-21 as a vaccine for patients with prostate cancer who have relapsed after primary therapies such as radiation or surgery. Globo H is one of several candidate antigens present on prostate cancer cells that can serve as targets for immune recognition and treatment strategies. The vaccine, given as five subcutaneous vaccinations over 26 weeks, has been shown to be safe and capable of inducing specific high-titer IgM antibodies against globo H. Its immunogenicity was confirmed in prostate cancer patients with a broad range of stages and tumor burdens. Observations of several patients who had evidence of disease relapse restricted to a rising biochemical marker, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), indicated that a treatment effect could occur within 3 months after completion of the vaccine therapy. This effect was manifested as a decline of the slope of the log of PSA concentration vs. time plot after treatment compared with values before treatment. Five patients continue to have stable PSA slope profiles in the absence of any radiographic evidence of disease for more than 2 years. The concept of using PSA slope profiles in assessing early treatment effects in biological therapies such as vaccines awaits further validation in phase II and III trials. The use of a variety of lesser known candidate glycoprotein and carbohydrate antigens in prostate cancer serves as a focus for the development of a multivalent vaccine of the treatment of relapsed prostate cancer in patients with minimal tumor burden.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/1999; 96(10):5710-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Osteoblasten: ja, Blutplättchen: nein! Knochenimplantate müssen sich mit dem umgebenden Gewebe verbinden, um möglichst gut einwachsen zu können. Ein neues Verfahren wird beschrieben, das auf der kovalenten Anknüpfung eines hochselektiven RGD-Peptides an Polymethylmethacrylat (PMMA) basiert (siehe Bild). Osteoblasten binden sehr effektiv an so beschichtete Oberflächen und werden zur Proliferation stimuliert.
    Angewandte Chemie 03/1999; 111(4):590 - 594.
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    ABSTRACT: Human trials on the globo H carbohydrate vaccine (see picture, KLH=the carrier protein keyhole limpet hemocyanin) show that it produces strong IgM, and in some cases IgG, responses in patients with progressive and recurrent prostate cancer. Furthermore, these antibodies not only recognize synthetic antigens, but also globo H-positive tumors in biopsy extracts and tumor tissues.
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition 02/1999; 38(4):563 - 566. · 11.34 Impact Factor