Clinical trials of antitumor vaccination with an autologous tumor cell vaccine modified by virus infection: improvement of patient survival based on improved antitumor immune memory
For active specific immunotherapy of cancer patients, we designed the autologous virus-modified tumor cell vaccine ATV-NDV. The rationale of this vaccine is to link multiple tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) from individual patient-derived tumor cells with multiple danger signals (DS) derived from virus infection (dsRNA, HN, IFN-alpha). This allows activation of multiple innate immune responses (monocytes, dendritic cells, and NK cells) as well as adaptive immune responses (CD4 and CD8 memory T cells). Preexisting antitumor memory T cells from cancer patients could be activated by antitumor vaccination with ATV-NDV as seen by augmentation of antitumor memory delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses. In a variety of phase II vaccination studies, an optimal formulation of this vaccine could improve long-term survival beyond what is seen in conventional standard therapies. A new concept is presented which proposes that a certain threshold of antitumor immune memory plays an important role (1) in the control of residual tumor cells which remain after most therapies and (2) for long-term survival of treated cancer patients. This immune memory is T-cell based and most likely maintained by persisting TAAs from residual dormant tumor cells. Such immune memory was prominent in the bone marrow in animal tumor models as well as in cancer patients. Immunization with a tumor vaccine in which individual TAAs are combined with DS from virus infection appears to have a positive effect on antitumor immune memory and on patient survival.