Abstract

The transcription factor Wilms tumor protein (WT) 1 belongs to a new generation of tumor antigens, which are essential for tumor cell proliferation. WT1 is highly expressed in AML and in MDS upon appearance of blasts. A phase II trial of vaccination with the HLA-A2-restricted WT1.126–134 peptide was performed in patients with AML and MDS and overexpression of WT1 to determine immunogenicity and clinical activity. Patients received vaccinations with 0.2 mg WT1.126–134 peptide (day 3), 62.5 mcg dendritic cell-stimulating adjuvant GM-CSF (days 1–4) and 1 mg T helper protein keyhole limpet hemocyanin (day 3). The initial 13 patients were to receive 4 biweekly and subsequent 4-weekly vaccinations, the subsequent 13 patients were continuously vaccinated biweekly. Vaccination was continued in absence of overt disease progression. WT1 levels were assessed by quantitative RT-PCR and WT1-specific T cell responses by tetramer analyses and cytokine flow cytometry. Response assessment following IWG-MDS criteria was used, capturing stable disease and hematologic improvement. A duration of 8 weeks was required for stable disease. Enrolment was completed in June 2006 with 24 patients with AML and 2 with MDS (RAEB). Of the 24 AML patients, 16 had > 5% marrow blasts at study onset (8 without prior chemotherapy, 4 with disease persistence following chemotherapy, 4 with PR), and 8 were in CR at high risk for relapse. A median of 10 (range 4 – 23) vaccinations was administered with 8 patients currently still under treatment. No significant toxicity occurred. To date, 22 patients are evaluable for clinical response. Overall, 8/16 patients with > 5% marrow blasts at study onset displayed clinical efficacy of vaccine treatment (SD or better). One AML patient achieved CR for 12 months after brief initial progression, and 7 patients had disease stabilization (2, 2+, 3, 3, 6, 10+, 14 months). One of these patients with RAEBII had a major response of neutrophils and platelets, and one AML patient had initial progression and subsequent transient complete clearance of peripheral blasts. WT1 transcripts as molecular disease marker decreased at least 3-fold (range 3-fold - >50-fold, median >10-fold) in 12 of 20 currently evaluated patients, including all 8 patients with evidence of clinical efficacy and 4 of 5 AML patients vaccinated in CR. The generation of a WT1-specific T cell response in peripheral blood and bone marrow was detected in 12 of 16 evaluated patients including all 6 of these 16 patients with evidence for clinical efficacy. This study shows that WT1 vaccination has promising antileukemia activity. A multicenter comparative WT1 vaccination study in CR patients at high risk of relapse is currently initiated.

Disclosures: The WT1 peptide, GM-CSF and KLH are used off label.

Author notes

*

Corresponding author