One major achievement in cancer therapy is to select patients who will most likely benefit from a specific treatment. Predictive biomarkers play an important role in this respect being already useful in management of breast cancer and melanoma. For example, HER-2/neu (HER-2) overexpression selects for breast cancer patients to be treated with trastuzumab, and BRAFV600E mutations select for melanoma patients to be treated with vemurafenib. Identification of factors associated with T cell responsiveness to vaccination remains critical. Pre-existent immunity and circulating suppressor cells may regulate the levels of vaccine-specific T cell immunity after vaccination. The identification of immunologic endpoints to immunotherapy would thus considerably help guide the development of immunotherapy-based clinical trials. This commentary is based on a retrospective analysis we performed of data from prostate cancer patients vaccinated and boosted with the AE37 vaccine. The aim of these exploratory analyses was to identify factors useful in predicting which patients are more likely to respond to the treatment under study. The issue we are addressing here is to which extent common variables used pre- and/or following vaccinations with AE37 to assess the immune response status of the prostate cancer patients, may predict overall survival.
Keywords: HER-2/neu; HLA; biomarkers; cancer vaccine; prostate cancer.