Background: The investigational oral DNA vaccine VXM01 targets the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) and uses Salmonella typhi Ty21a as a vector. The immune reaction elicited by VXM01 is expected to disrupt the tumor neovasculature and, consequently, inhibit tumor growth. VXM01 potentially combines the advantages of anti-angiogenic therapy and active immunotherapy.
Methods/design: This phase I trial examines the safety, tolerability, and immunological and clinical responses to VXM01. The randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind dose-escalation study includes up to 45 patients with locally advanced and stage IV pancreatic cancer. The patients will receive four doses of VXM01 or placebo in addition to gemcitabine as standard of care. Doses from 106 cfu up to 1010 cfu of VXM01 will be evaluated in the study. An independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) will be involved in the dose-escalation decisions. In addition to safety as primary endpoint, the VXM01-specific immune reaction, as well as clinical response parameters will be evaluated.
Discussion: The results of this study shall provide the first data regarding the safety and immunogenicity of the oral anti-VEGFR-2 vaccine VXM01 in cancer patients. They will also define the recommended dose for phase II and provide the basis for further clinical evaluation, which may also include additional cancer indications.
Trial registration: EudraCT No.: 2011-000222-29, NCT01486329, ISRCTN68809279.