In a pilot phase II clinical trial, Storkus et al. reported the safety, immunogenicity, and antitumor efficacy of autologous αDC1 vaccines loaded with tumor blood vessel antigen peptides, plus dasatinib (Arm A = delayed dasatinib, Arm B = immediate dasatinib), in patients with HLA-A2+, checkpoint blockade-refractory melanoma. The combination was well tolerated, with no > grade 3 treatment-related AEs, and led to clinical improvement/stabilization (4 PR and 2 SD) and immunological response in 6 out of 13 evaluable patients (Arm B > Arm A), with evidence of epitope spreading, TCR convergence, and tertiary lymphoid structure neogenesis in treatment responsive patients.
Contributed by Shishir Pant
BACKGROUND: A first-in-human, randomized pilot phase II clinical trial combining vaccines targeting overexpressed, non-mutated tumor blood vessel antigens (TBVA) and tyrosine kinase inhibitor dasatinib was conducted in human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2(+) patients with advanced melanoma. METHODS: Patient monocyte-derived type-1-polarized dendritic cells were loaded with HLA-A2-presented peptides derived from TBVA (DLK1, EphA2, HBB, NRP1, RGS5, TEM1) and injected intradermally as a vaccine into the upper extremities every other week. Patients were randomized into one of two treatment arms receiving oral dasatinib (70_mg two times per day) beginning in week 5 (Arm A) or in week 1 (Arm B). Trial endpoints included T cell response to vaccine peptides (interferon-_ enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot), objective clinical response (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors V.1.1) and exploratory tumor, blood and serum profiling of immune-associated genes/proteins. RESULTS: Sixteen patients with advanced-stage cutaneous (n=10), mucosal (n=1) or uveal (n=5) melanoma were accrued, 15 of whom had previously progressed on programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) blockade. Of 13 evaluable patients, 6 patients developed specific peripheral blood T cell responses against ³3 vaccine-associated peptides, with further evidence of epitope spreading. All six patients with specific CD8(+) T cell response to vaccine-targeted antigens exhibited evidence of T cell receptor (TCR) convergence in association with preferred clinical outcomes (four partial response and two stabilization of disease (SD)). Seven patients failed to respond to vaccination (one SD and six progressive disease). Patients in Arm B (immediate dasatinib) outperformed those in Arm A (delayed dasatinib) for immune response rate (IRR; 66.7% vs 28.6%), objective response rate (ORR) (66.7% vs 0%), overall survival (median 15.45 vs 3.47 months; p=0.0086) and progression-free survival (median 7.87 vs 1.97 months; p=0.063). IRR (80% vs 25%) and ORR (60% vs 12.5%) was greater for females versus male patients. Tumors in patients exhibiting response to treatment displayed (1) evidence of innate and adaptive immune-mediated inflammation and TCR convergence at baseline, (2) on-treatment transcriptional changes associated with reduced hypoxia/acidosis/glycolysis, and (3) increased inflammatory immune cell infiltration and tertiary lymphoid structure neogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: Combined vaccination against TBVA plus dasatinib was safe and resulted in coordinating immunologic and/or objective clinical responses in 6/13 (46%) evaluable patients with melanoma, particularly those initiating treatment with both agents. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT01876212.