In an attempt to significantly enhance immunogenicity of peptide cancer vaccines, we developed a novel non-emulsion depot-forming vaccine platform called DepoVax™ (DPX). Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2 restricted peptides naturally presented by cancer cells were used as antigens to create a therapeutic cancer vaccine, DPX-0907. In a phase I clinical study, the safety and immune-activating potential of DPX-0907 in advanced-stage breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer patients were examined, following encouraging results in HLA-A2 transgenic mice. The DPX-0907 vaccine was shown to be safe and well tolerated, with injection-site reactions being the most commonly reported adverse event. Vaccinated cancer patients exhibited a 61% immune response rate, with higher response rates in the breast and ovarian cancer patient cohorts. In keeping with the higher immune efficacy of this vaccine platform, antigen-specific responses were detected in 73% of immune responders after just one vaccination. In 83% of responders, peptide-specific T-cells were detected at two or more time points post-vaccination, with 64% of these patients showing evidence of immune persistence. Immune monitoring also demonstrated the generation of antigen-specific T-cell memory, with the ability to secrete multiple type 1 cytokines. The novel DPX formulation promotes multifunctional effector/memory responses to peptide-based tumor-associated antigens. The data support the capacity of DPX-0907 to elicit type-1 biased immune responses, warranting further clinical development of the vaccine. In this review, we discuss the rationale for developing DPX-based therapeutic cancer vaccine(s), with a focus on DPX-0907, aimed at inducing efficient anti-tumor immunity that may eventually be shown to prolong patient survival.
Keywords: DPX-0907; DepoVax™; cancer vaccine; immunotherapy.