Research ArticleCancer

Individualized vaccination of AML patients in remission is associated with induction of antileukemia immunity and prolonged remissions

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Science Translational Medicine  07 Dec 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 368, pp. 368ra171
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aag1298

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Immune cells join leukemia then beat it

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive hematologic cancer. The only curative treatment available for this disease is hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, which can result in donor immune cells helping to eradicate the cancer. Unfortunately, this procedure is not always effective and is itself associated with numerous complications and risk of death. Rosenblatt et al. have identified a potentially better way to stimulate an immune response against AML by fusing patients’ own leukemia cells with dendritic cells. The resulting fusion cells were very effective at presenting tumor antigens to T cells, resulting in a strong antitumor T cell response and prolonged survival in human patients.


We developed a personalized cancer vaccine in which patient-derived acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells are fused with autologous dendritic cells, generating a hybridoma that potently stimulates broad antitumor responses. We report results obtained from the first 17 AML patients, who achieved remission after chemotherapy and were then serially vaccinated to target minimal residual disease and prevent relapse. Vaccination was well tolerated and induced inflammatory responses at the site of administration, characterized by the dense infiltration of T cells. Vaccination was also associated with a marked rise in circulating T cells recognizing whole AML cells and leukemia-specific antigens that persisted for more than 6 months. Twelve of 17 vaccinated patients (71%; 90% confidence interval, 52 to 89%) remain alive without recurrence at a median follow-up of 57 months. The results demonstrate that personalized vaccination of AML patients in remission induces the expansion of leukemia-specific T cells and may be protective against disease relapse.

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