Combined immunotherapy with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor-transduced allogeneic prostate cancer cells and ipilimumab in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: a phase 1 dose-escalation trial

Lancet Oncol. 2012 May;13(5):509-17. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(12)70007-4. Epub 2012 Feb 10.


Background: The granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor-transduced allogeneic prostate cancer cells vaccine (GVAX) has antitumour activity against prostate cancer; preclinical studies have shown potent synergy when combined with ipilimumab, an antibody that blocks cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4. We aimed to assess the safety of combined treatment with GVAX and ipilimumab in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).

Methods: We did an open-labelled, single-centre, dose-escalation study of ipilimumab concurrent with a fixed dose of GVAX, with a subsequent expansion phase, both at the VU University Medical Centre (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Eligible patients had documented mCRPC and had not been previously treated with chemotherapy. All patients received a 5×10(8) cell priming dose of GVAX intradermally on day 1 with subsequent intradermal injections of 3×10(8) cells every 2 weeks for 24 weeks. The vaccinations were combined with intravenous ipilimumab every 4 weeks. We enrolled patients in cohorts of three; each cohort received an escalating dose of ipilimumab at 0·3, 1·0, 3·0, or 5·0 mg/kg. Our primary endpoint was safety. This study is registered with, number NCT01510288.

Findings: We enrolled 12 patients into our dose-escalation cohort. We did not record any severe immune-related adverse events at the first two dose levels. At the 3·0 mg/kg dose level, one patient had grade 2 and two patients grade 3 hypophysitis; at the 5·0 mg/kg dose level, two patients had grade 3 hypophysitis and one patient developed grade 4 sarcoid alveolitis (a dose-limiting toxic effect). Due to observed clinical activity and toxic events, we decided to expand the 3·0 mg/kg dose level, rather than enrol a further three patients at the 5·0 mg/kg level. 16 patients were enrolled in the expansion cohort, two of whom developed grade 2 hypophysitis, three colitis (one grade 1 and two grade 2), and one grade 3 hepatitis--all immune-related adverse events. The most common adverse events noted in all 28 patients were injection-site reactions (grade 1-2 events seen in all patients), fatigue (grade 1-2 in 20 patients, grade 3 in two), and pyrexia (grade 1-2 in 15 patients, grade 3 in one). 50% or greater declines in prostate-specific antigen from baseline was recorded in seven patients (25%); all had received 3·0 mg/kg or 5·0 mg/kg ipilimumab.

Interpretation: GVAX combined with 3·0 mg/kg ipilimumab is tolerable and safe for patients with mCRPC. Further research on the combined treatment of patients with mCRPC with vaccination and ipilimumab is warranted.

Funding: Cell Genesys Inc, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Dutch Cancer Society (KWF-VU 2006-3697), and Foundation Stichting VUmc Cancer Center Amsterdam.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / immunology
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Ipilimumab
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orchiectomy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / secondary
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Ipilimumab
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor

Associated data