Telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) represents an attractive target for cancer immunotherapy because hTERT is reactivated in most human tumors. A clinical trial was initiated in which hTERT mRNA-transfected dendritic cells (DC) were administered to 20 patients with metastatic prostate cancer. Nine of these subjects received DC transfected with mRNA encoding a chimeric lysosome-associated membrane protein-1 (LAMP) hTERT protein, allowing for concomitant induction of hTERT-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses. Treatment was well tolerated. Intense infiltrates of hTERT-specific T cells were noted at intradermal injection sites after repeated vaccination. In 19 of 20 subjects, expansion of hTERT-specific CD8+ T cells was measured in the peripheral blood of study subjects, with 0.9-1.8% of CD8+ T cells exhibiting Ag specificity. Patients immunized with the chimeric LAMP hTERT vaccine developed significantly higher frequencies of hTERT-specific CD4+ T cells than subjects receiving DC transfected with the unmodified hTERT template. Moreover, CTL-mediated killing of hTERT targets was enhanced in the LAMP hTERT group, suggesting that an improved CD4+ response could augment a CTL response. Vaccination was further associated with a reduction of prostate-specific Ag velocity and molecular clearance of circulating micrometastases. Our findings provide a rationale for further development of hTERT-transfected DC vaccines in the treatment of prostate and other cancers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy