GM-CSF secreting leukemia cell vaccination for MDS/AML after allogeneic HSCT: a randomized, double-blinded, phase 2 trial

Blood Adv. 2022 Apr 12;6(7):2183-2194. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2021006255.


Vaccination using irradiated, adenovirus transduced autologous myeloblasts to secrete granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GVAX) early after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) can induce potent immune responses. We conducted a randomized phase 2 trial of GVAX after HSCT for myelodysplastic syndrome with excess blasts or relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia. Myeloblasts were harvested before HSCT to generate the vaccine. Randomization to GVAX vs placebo (1:1) was stratified according to disease, transplant center, and conditioning. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis included tacrolimus and methotrexate. GVAX or placebo vaccination was started between day 30 and 45 if there was engraftment and no GVHD. Vaccines were administered subcutaneously/intradermally weekly × 3, then every 2 weeks × 3. Tacrolimus taper began after vaccine completion. A total of 123 patients were enrolled, 92 proceeded to HSCT, and 57 (GVAX, n = 30; placebo, n = 27) received at least 1 vaccination. No Common Toxicity Criteria grade 3 or worse vaccine-related adverse events were reported, but injection site reactions were more common after GVAX (10 vs 1; P = .006). With a median follow-up of 39 months (range, 9-89 months), 18-month progression-free survival, overall survival, and relapse incidence were 53% vs 55% (P = .79), 63% vs 59% (P = .86), and 30% vs 37% (P = .51) for GVAX and placebo, respectively. Nonrelapse mortality at 18 months was 17% vs 7.7% (P = .18), grade II to IV acute GVHD at 12 months was 34% vs 12% (P = .13), and chronic GVHD at 3 years was 49% vs 57% for GVAX and placebo (P = .26). Reconstitution of T, B, and natural killer cells was not decreased or enhanced by GVAX. There were no differences in serum major histocompatibility chain-related protein A/B or other immune biomarkers between GVAX and placebo. GVAX does not improve survival after HSCT for myelodysplastic syndrome/acute myeloid leukemia. This trial was registered at as #NCT01773395.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Graft vs Host Disease* / etiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease* / prevention & control
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / therapeutic use
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / drug therapy
  • Vaccination


  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor

Associated data