Using MRI to evaluate and predict therapeutic success from depot-based cancer vaccines

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2015 Dec 16;2:15048. doi: 10.1038/mtm.2015.48. eCollection 2015.


In the preclinical development of immunotherapy candidates, understanding the mechanism of action and determining biomarkers that accurately characterize the induced host immune responses is critical to improving their clinical interpretation. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to evaluate in vivo changes in lymph node size in response to a peptide-based cancer vaccine therapy, formulated using DepoVax (DPX). DPX is a novel adjuvant lipid-in-oil-based formulation that facilitates enhanced immune responses by retaining antigens at the injection site for extended latencies, promoting increased potentiation of immune cells. C57BL/6 mice were implanted with C3 (HPV) tumor cells and received either DPX or control treatments, 5 days post-implantation. Complete tumor eradication occurred in DPX-vaccinated animals and large volumetric increases were observed in the vaccine-draining right inguinal lymph node (VRILN) in DPX mice, likely corresponding to increased localized immune response to the vaccine. Upon evaluating the relative measure of vaccine-potentiated immune activation to tumor-induced immune response (VRILN/VLILN), receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves revealed an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.90 (±0.07), indicating high specificity and sensitivity as a predictive biomarker of vaccine efficacy. We have determined that for this tumor model, early MRI lymph node volumetric changes are predictive of depot immunotherapeutic success.