Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Jul 1;18(13):3686-96. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-3044. Epub 2012 May 10.
Phase I trial of a glypican-3-derived peptide vaccine for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma: immunologic evidence and potential for improving overall survival.
PURPOSE: The carcinoembryonic antigen glypican-3 (GPC3) is an ideal target of anticancer immunotherapy against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this nonrandomized, open-label, phase I clinical trial, we analyzed the safety and efficacy of GPC3 peptide vaccination in patients with advanced HCC.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Thirty-three patients with advanced HCC underwent GPC3 peptide vaccination (intradermal injections on days 1, 15, and 29 with dose escalation). The primary endpoint was the safety of GPC3 peptide vaccination. The secondary endpoints were immune response, as measured by IFN-γ ELISPOT assay, and the clinical outcomes tumor response, time to tumor progression, and overall survival (OS).
RESULTS: GPC3 vaccination was well-tolerated. One patient showed a partial response, and 19 patients showed stable disease 2 months after initiation of treatment. Four of the 19 patients with stable disease had tumor necrosis or regression that did not meet the criteria for a partial response. Levels of the tumor markers α-fetoprotein and/or des-γ-carboxy prothrombin temporarily decreased in nine patients. The GPC3 peptide vaccine induced a GPC3-specific CTL response in 30 patients. Furthermore, GPC3-specific CTL frequency after vaccination correlated with OS. OS was significantly longer in patients with high GPC3-specific CTL frequencies (N = 15) than in those with low frequencies (N = 18; P = 0.033).
CONCLUSIONS: GPC3-derived peptide vaccination was well-tolerated, and measurable immune responses and antitumor efficacy were noted. This is the first study to show that peptide-specific CTL frequency can be a predictive marker of OS in patients with HCC receiving peptide vaccination.