TriMix and tumor antigen mRNA electroporated dendritic cell vaccination plus ipilimumab: link between T-cell activation and clinical responses in advanced melanoma
BACKGROUND: We previously reported that dendritic cell-based mRNA vaccination plus ipilimumab (TriMixDC-MEL IPI) results in an encouraging rate of tumor responses in patients with pretreated advanced melanoma. Here, we report the TriMixDC-MEL IPI-induced T-cell responses detected in the peripheral blood.
METHODS: Monocyte-derived dendritic cells electroporated with mRNA encoding CD70, CD40 ligand, and constitutively active TLR4 (TriMix) as well as the tumor-associated antigens tyrosinase, gp100, MAGE-A3, or MAGE-C2 were administered together with IPI for four cycles. For 18/39 patients, an additional vaccine was administered before the first IPI administration. We evaluated tumor-associated antigen specific T-cell responses in previously collected peripheral blood mononuclear cells, available from 15 patients.
RESULTS: Vaccine-induced enzyme-linked immunospot assay responses detected after in vitro T-cell stimulation were shown in 12/15 patients. Immune responses detected in patients with a complete or partial response were significantly stronger and broader, and exhibited a higher degree of multifunctionality compared with responses in patients with stable or progressive disease. CD8+ T-cell responses from patients with an ongoing clinical response, either elicited by TriMixDC-MEL IPI or on subsequent pembrolizumab treatment, exhibited the highest degree of multifunctionality.
CONCLUSIONS: TriMixDC-MEL IPI treatment results in robust CD8+ T-cell responses in a meaningful portion of stage III or IV melanoma patients, and obviously in patients with a clinical response. The levels of polyfunctional and multiantigen T-cell responses measured in patients with a complete response, particularly in patients evidently cured after 5+ years of follow-up, may provide a benchmark for the level of immune stimulation needed to achieve a durable clinical remission.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT01302496.