Active immunotherapy targeting dendritic cells (DCs) has shown great promise in preclinical models and in human clinical trials for the treatment of malignant disease. Sipuleucel-T (Provenge, Dendreon, Seattle, WA), which consists of antigen-loaded dendritic cells (DCs), recently became the first targeted therapeutic cancer vaccine to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, ex vivo therapies such as Provenge have practical limitations and elicit an immune response with limited scope. By contrast, live-attenuated Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) naturally targets DCs in vivo and stimulates both innate and adaptive cellular immunity. Lm-based vaccines engineered to express cancer antigens have demonstrated striking efficacy in several animal models and have resulted in encouraging anecdotal survival benefit in early human clinical trials. Two different Lm-based vaccine platforms have advanced into phase II clinical trials in cervical and pancreatic cancer. Future Lm-based clinical vaccine candidates are expected to feature polyvalent antigen expression and to be used in combination with other immunotherapies or conventional therapies such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy to augment efficacy.
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