PURPOSE: Non-surgical treatments for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2/3 (CIN2/3) are needed as surgical treatments have been shown to double preterm delivery rate. The goal of this study was to demonstrate safety of a human papillomavirus (HPV) therapeutic vaccine called PepCan, which consists of four current good-manufacturing production-grade peptides covering the HPV type 16 E6 protein and Candida skin test reagent as a novel adjuvant. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The study was a single-arm, single-institution, dose-escalation phase I clinical trial, and the patients (n = 24) were women with biopsy-proven CIN2/3. Four injections were administered intradermally every 3 weeks in limbs. Loop electrical excision procedure (LEEP) was performed 12 weeks after the last injection for treatment and histological analysis. Six subjects each were enrolled (50, 100, 250, and 500 μg per peptide). RESULTS: The most common adverse events (AEs) were injection site reactions, and none of the patients experienced dose-limiting toxicities. The best histological response was seen at the 50 μg dose level with a regression rate of 83% (n = 6), and the overall rate was 52% (n = 23). Vaccine-induced immune responses to E6 were detected in 65% of recipients (significantly in 43%). Systemic T-helper type 1 (Th1) cells were significantly increased after four vaccinations (P = 0.02). CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated that PepCan is safe. A significantly increased systemic level of Th1 cells suggests that Candida, which induces interleukin-12 (IL-12) in vitro, may have a Th1 promoting effect. A phase II clinical trial to assess the full effect of this vaccine is warranted.
Keywords: T cells; cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; clinical trial; human papillomavirus; therapeutic vaccine.