Background: The FDA recently approved an anti-CTLA-4 antibody (Iplimumab) for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. This decision was based on Phase III results, which demonstrate that blocking this immune checkpoint provides a survival advantage in patients with advanced disease. As a single agent, ipilimumab is also being clinically evaluated in advanced (metastatic, castrate-resistant) prostate cancer and two randomized, placebo-controlled Phase III studies have recently completed accrual.
Methods: We used a well-described genetically engineered mouse (GEM), autochronous prostate cancer model (Pro-TRAMP) to explore the relative sequencing and dosing of anti-CTLA-4 antibody when combined with a cell-based, GM-CSF-secreting vaccine (GVAX).
Results: Our results show that combined treatment results in a dramatic increase in effector CD8 T cells in the prostate gland, and enhanced tumor-antigen directed lytic function. These effects are maximized when CTLA-4 blockade is applied after, but not before, vaccination. Additional experiments, using models of metastatic disease, show that incorporation of low-dose cyclophosphamide into this combined treatment regimen results in an additional pre-clinical benefit.
Conclusions: Together these studies define a combination regimen using anti-CTLA-4/GVAX immunotherapy and low-dose chemotherapy for potential translation to a clinical trial setting.