Concurrent Trastuzumab and HER2/neu-Specific Vaccination in Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer

Tumor Vaccine Group, Center for Translational Medicine in Women's Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-8050, USa.
Journal of Clinical Oncology (Impact Factor: 18.43). 09/2009; 27(28):4685-92. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2008.20.6789
Source: PubMed


The primary objectives of this phase I/II study were to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of combination therapy consisting of concurrent trastuzumab and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)/neu-specific vaccination in patients with HER2/neu-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer.
Twenty-two patients with stage IV HER2/neu-positive breast cancer receiving trastuzumab therapy were vaccinated with an HER2/neu T-helper peptide-based vaccine. Toxicity was graded according to National Cancer Institute criteria, and antigen specific T-cell immunity was assessed by interferon gamma enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay. Data on progression-free and overall survival were collected.
Concurrent trastuzumab and HER2/neu vaccinations were well tolerated, with 15% of patients experiencing an asymptomatic decline in left ventricular ejection fraction below the normal range during combination therapy. Although many patients had pre-existing immunity specific for HER2/neu and other breast cancer antigens while treated with trastuzumab alone, that immunity could be significantly boosted and maintained with vaccination. Epitope spreading within HER2/neu and to additional tumor-related proteins was stimulated by immunization, and the magnitude of the T-cell response generated was significantly inversely correlated with serum transforming growth factor beta levels. At a median follow-up of 36 months from the first vaccine, the median overall survival in the study population has not been reached.
Combination therapy with trastuzumab and a HER2/neu vaccine is associated with minimal toxicity and results in prolonged, robust, antigen-specific immune responses in treated patients.

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Available from: Meredith Slota
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    • "Conversely, combination therapy with trastuzumab and an ErbB2/Neu T helper peptide vaccine was well tolerated and it was associated with minimal toxicity in patients with metastatic breast cancer. In addition, the combinatorial approach of the vaccine with passive immunotherapy resulted in prolonged, robust, antigen-specific immune responses in treated patients and induced epitope spreading [54]. In agreement with these evidences it is reasonable to investigate ErbB2 cancer vaccine approaches with the aim to improve the objective tumor inhibitory response in salivary gland carcinomas. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The antitumor activity induced by intratumoral vaccination with poxvirus expressing a tumor antigen was shown to be superior to that induced by subcutaneous vaccination. Salivary gland carcinomas overexpress ErbB2. Trastuzumab, a monoclonal antibody to ErbB2, was proposed for salivary gland tumors treatment. We explored the effectiveness of intratumoral vaccination with the recombinant vaccinia virus ErbB2/Neu (rV-neuT) vaccine in hampering the growth of transplanted Neu-overexpressing BALB-neuT salivary gland cancer cells (SALTO) in BALB-neuT mice. Methods BALB-neuT male mice were subcutaneously injected with SALTO tumor cells and intratumorally vaccinated twice with different doses of either rV-neuT or V-wt (wild-type). Tumors were measured weekly. The presence of anti-ErbB2/Neu antibodies was assayed by ELISA, immunoprecipitation or indirect immunofluorescence. Biological activity of immune sera was investigated by analyzing antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), SALTO cells proliferation and apoptosis, ErbB2/Neu receptor down regulation and ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Anti-Neu T cell immunity was investigated by determining the release of IL-2 and IFN-gamma in T cells supernatant. Survival curves were determined using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank test. Differences in tumor volumes, number of apoptotic cells, titer of the serum, percentage of ADCC were evaluated through a two-tailed Student’s t-test. Results rV-neuT intratumoral vaccination was able to inhibit the growth of SALTO cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. The anti-Neu serum titer paralleled in vivo antitumor activity of rV-neuT vaccinated mice. rV-neuT immune serum was able to mediate ADCC, inhibition of SALTO cells proliferation, down regulation of the ErbB2/Neu receptor, inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphorylation and induction of apoptosis, thus suggesting potential mechanisms of in vivo tumor growth interference. In addition, spleen T cells of rV-neuT vaccinated mice released IFN-gamma and IL-2 upon in vitro stimulation with several Neu-specific peptides located in the extracellular domain of Neu sequence. Conclusions rV-neuT intratumoral vaccination could be employed to induce an efficient antitumor response and reject transplanted salivary gland tumors. Our findings may have important implications for the design of cancer vaccine protocols for the treatment of salivary gland tumors and other accessible tumors using intratumoral injection of recombinant vaccinia virus.
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    • "This allows for specific tumor killing with minimal toxicity to surrounding normal tissue. This type of targeted immunotherapy is already being widely used in humans in the form of Her2/neu antibodies for breast cancer [6] [7] [8]. Antibody therapy is considered passive since its efficacy is based on a direct effect of the administered antibody on tumor cells and does not primarily depend on activation of the body's immune system. "
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    • "This expanded T-cell response is known as antigen spreading or antigen cascade,5 a process that can broaden and become more clinically relevant over time. In fact, emerging data show improved clinical outcomes in patients who mount a broad immunologic response.678 "
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