Phase I Trial of Vaccination With Autologous Neuroblastoma Tumor Cells Genetically Modified to Secrete IL-2 and Lymphotactin

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In murine models, transgenic chemokine-cytokine tumor vaccines overcome many of the limitations of single-agent immunotherapy by producing the sequence of T-cell attraction followed by proliferation of tumor antigen-activated clones. The safety and immunologic effects of this approach in humans were tested in 7 patients with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma. They each received up to 8 subcutaneous injections of a vaccine combining lymphotactin—and interleukin-2 (IL-2)—secreting autologous neuroblastoma cells in a dose-escalating scheme. Adverse events were limited to grade 1 or 2 localized reactions in all patients, pain in 3 patients, and fever in 3 patients. Injection site biopsies revealed increased cellularity caused by infiltration of CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes, eosinophils, and dendritic cells with a decrease in dendritic cells from the first to the second vaccination. Systemically, vaccine was associated with increased tumor recognition as measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assays. Two patients had interferon-γ predominant responses and 3 had IL-5 predominant responses. Only 1 patient received all 8 injections, 1 patient stopped the study early, and all other patients progressed before completion of the study. Hence, autologous tumor cell vaccines combining transgenic lymphotactin with IL-2 seem to have little toxicity in humans and can induce an antitumor immune response. In this setting, the immune response was insufficient to overcome active recurrent neuroblastoma.

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