Phase I Trial of a Modified Vaccinia Ankara Priming Vaccine Followed by a Fowlpox Virus Boosting Vaccine Modified to Express Brachyury and Costimulatory Molecules in Advanced Solid Tumors

Oncologist. 2020 Jul;25(7):560-e1006. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2019-0932. Epub 2019 Dec 26.


Lessons learned: Modified vaccinia Ankara-Bavarian Nordic (MVA-BN)-Brachyury followed by fowlpox virus-BN-Brachyury was well tolerated upon administration to patients with advanced cancer. Sixty-three percent of patients developed CD4+ and/or CD8+ T-cell responses to brachyury after vaccination. BN-Brachyury vaccine also induced T-cell responses against CEA and MUC1, which are cascade antigens, that is, antigens not encoded in the vaccines.

Background: Brachyury, a transcription factor, plays an integral role in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, metastasis, and tumor resistance to chemotherapy. It is expressed in many tumor types, and rarely in normal tissues, making it an ideal immunologic target. Bavarian Nordic (BN)-Brachyury consists of vaccination with modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) priming followed by fowlpox virus (FPV) boosting, each encoding transgenes for brachyury and costimulatory molecules.

Methods: Patients with metastatic solid tumors were treated with two monthly doses of MVA-brachyury s.c., 8 × 108 infectious units (IU), followed by FPV-brachyury s.c., 1 × 109 IU, for six monthly doses and then every 3 months for up to 2 years. The primary objective was to determine safety and tolerability.

Results: Eleven patients were enrolled from March 2018 to July 2018 (one patient was nonevaluable). No dose-limiting toxicities were observed. The most common treatment-related adverse event was grade 1/2 injection-site reaction observed in all patients. Best overall response was stable disease in six patients, and the 6-month progression-free survival rate was 50%. T cells against brachyury and cascade antigens CEA and MUC1 were detected in the majority of patients.

Conclusion: BN-Brachyury vaccine is well tolerated and induces immune responses to brachyury and cascade antigens and demonstrates some evidence of clinical benefit.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fetal Proteins
  • Fowlpox virus*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / genetics
  • Vaccinia virus / genetics
  • Vaccinia*


  • Fetal Proteins
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • Brachyury protein