Background: The response of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) to therapy is often disappointing and new modalities of treatment are clearly needed. Active immunotherapy based on the injection of autologous dendritic cells (DC) co-cultured ex vivo with tumor antigens has been used in pilot studies in various malignancies such as melanoma and lymphoma with encouraging results.
Methods: In the present paper, the preparation and exposure of patient DC to autologous HCC antigens and re-injection in an attempt to elicit antitumor immune responses are described.
Results: Therapy was given to two patients, one with hepatitis C and one with hepatitis B, who had large, multiple HCC and for whom no other therapy was available. No significant side-effects were observed. The clinical course was unchanged in one patient, who died a few months later. The other patient, whose initial prognosis was considered poor, is still alive and well more than 3 years later with evidence of slowing of tumor growth based on organ imaging.
Conclusions: It is concluded that HCC may be a malignancy worthy of DC trials and sufficient details in the present paper are given for the protocol to be copied or modified.