Background: E75 (nelipepimut-S) is a human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2/A3-restricted immunogenic peptide derived from the HER2 protein. We have conducted phase I/II clinical trials vaccinating breast cancer patients with nelipepimut-S and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in the adjuvant setting to prevent disease recurrence. All patients have completed 60 months follow-up, and here, we report the final analyses.
Patients and methods: The studies were conducted as dose escalation/schedule optimization trials enrolling node-positive and high-risk node-negative patients with tumors expressing any degree of HER2 (immunohistochemistry 1-3+). HLA-A2/3+ patients were vaccinated; others were followed prospectively as controls. Local and systemic toxicity was monitored. Clinical recurrences were documented, and disease-free survival (DFS) was analyzed by Kaplan-Meier curves; groups were compared using log-rank tests.
Results: Of 195 enrolled patients, 187 were assessable: 108 (57.8%) in the vaccinated group (VG) and 79 (42.2%) in the control group (CG). The groups were well matched for clinicopathologic characteristics. Toxicities were minimal. Five-year DFS was 89.7% in the VG versus 80.2% in the CG (P = 0.08). Due to trial design, 65% of patients received less than the optimal vaccine dose. Five-year DFS was 94.6% in optimally dosed patients (P = 0.05 versus the CG) and 87.1% in suboptimally dosed patients. A voluntary booster program was initiated, and among the 21 patients that were optimally boosted, there was only one recurrence (DFS = 95.2%).
Conclusion: The E75 vaccine is safe and appears to have clinical efficacy. A phase III trial evaluating the optimal dose and including booster inoculations has been initiated.
Keywords: breast cancer; immunotherapy; nelipepimut-S; vaccine.
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