Tumor-cell number and viability as quality and efficacy parameters of autologous virus-modified cancer vaccines in patients with breast or ovarian cancer

PMID: 9193327
Journal: Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (volume: 15, issue: 4, J. Clin. Oncol. 1997 Apr;15(4):1354-66)
Published: 1997-04-01

Ahlert T, Sauerbrei W, Bastert G, Ruhland S, Bartik B, Simiantonaki N, Schumacher J, Häcker B, Schumacher M, Schirrmacher V


PURPOSE: We investigated quality and efficacy criteria of an autologous, physically and immunologically purified, Newcastle disease virus (NDV)-modified, irradiated tumor-cell vaccine (ATV-NDV) by analyzing three independent cohorts (a through c) of patients vaccinated between 1991 and 1995.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Included were 63 patients with primary breast cancer (a), 27 with metastatic pretreated breast cancer (b), and 31 with metastatic pretreated ovarian cancer (c). In addition to vaccine, cohorts b and c received nonspecific immunotherapy as supportive treatment. After cryoconservation and purification, the vaccines varied in applied numbers of viable cells and dead cell contaminations. We retrospectively hypothesized that an immunogenic vaccine should contain at least 1.5 x 10(6) viable tumor cells and viability should be at least 33%. Each cohort was thus divided into two groups; one that received vaccine type A (A), fulfilling both criteria; and the other type B (B), missing one or both criteria.

RESULTS: Conventional prognostic factors were wall balanced between A and B in cohorts a and c. In cohort a, there was a benefit in survival (P = .026) and disease-free survival (P = .089) for A. In addition, in cohort a, the relative risk of dying in the group that received A as compared with B was 0.2 (univariate Cox model). There were also survival trends in favor of A versus B (P = .18 and P = .09, respectively) in cohorts b and c, with relative risks of 0.5 and 0.42, respectively. In cohort b, the survival benefit could not be ascribed to vaccine quality alone, because of prognostic imbalance in favor of A.

CONCLUSION: In cohort c, like in cohort a, the survival benefit for A may be ascribed to the ATV-NDV vaccine quality, since prognostic factors were not biased. This could imply clinical effectivity in breast and ovarian cancer with ATV-NDV high-quality vaccine. Furthermore, the data provide clinically relevant information for standardization and quality control of autologous tumor-cell vaccines. A randomized study is urgently needed.