Purpose: An open-label Phase 1 study of recombinant prime-boost poxviruses targeting CEA and MUC-1 in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer was conducted to determine safety, tolerability and obtain preliminary data on immune response and survival.
Patients and methods: Ten patients with advanced pancreatic cancer were treated on a Phase I clinical trial. The vaccination regimen consisted of vaccinia virus expressing tumor antigens carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and mucin-1 (MUC-1) with three costimulatory molecules B7.1, ICAM-1 and LFA-3 (TRICOM) (PANVAC-V) and fowlpox virus expressing the same antigens and costimulatory molecules (PANVAC-F). Patients were primed with PANVAC-V followed by three booster vaccinations using PANVAC-F. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) was used as a local adjuvant after each vaccination and for 3 consecutive days thereafter. Monthly booster vaccinations for up to 12 months were provided for patients without progressive disease. Peripheral blood was collected before, during and after vaccinations for immune analysis.
Results: The most common treatment-related adverse events were mild injection-site reactions. Antibody responses against vaccinia virus was observed in all 10 patients and antigen-specific T cell responses were observed in 5 out of 8 evaluable patients (62.5%). Median overall survival was 6.3 months and a significant increase in overall survival was noted in patients who generated anti CEA- and/or MUC-1-specific immune responses compared with those who did not (15.1 vs 3.9 months, respectively; P = .002).
Conclusion: Poxvirus vaccination is safe, well tolerated, and capable of generating antigen-specific immune responses in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.