Purpose: Treatment options are limited for patients with high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). The azanucleosides, azacitidine and decitabine, are first-line therapy for MDS that induce promoter demethylation and gene expression of the highly immunogenic tumor antigen NY-ESO-1. We demonstrated that patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) receiving decitabine exhibit induction of NY-ESO-1 expression in circulating blasts. We hypothesized that vaccinating against NY-ESO-1 in patients with MDS receiving decitabine would capitalize upon induced NY-ESO-1 expression in malignant myeloid cells to provoke an NY-ESO-1–specific MDS-directed cytotoxic T-cell immune response. Experimental Design: In a phase I study, 9 patients with MDS received an HLA-unrestricted NY-ESO-1 vaccine (CDX-1401 þ poly-ICLC) in a nonoverlapping schedule every four weeks with standard-dose decitabine. Results: Analysis of samples serially obtained from the 7 patients who reached the end of the study demonstrated induction of NY-ESO-1 expression in 7 of 7 patients and NY-ESO-1–specific CD4 þ and CD8 þ T-lymphocyte responses in 6 of 7 and 4 of 7 of the vaccinated patients, respectively. Myeloid cells expressing NY-ESO-1, isolated from a patient at different time points during decitabine therapy, were capable of activating a cytotoxic response from autologous NY-ESO-1–specific T lymphocytes. Vaccine responses were associated with a detectable population of CD141 Hi conventional dendritic cells, which are critical for the uptake of NY-ESO-1 vaccine and have a recognized role in antitumor immune responses. Conclusions: These data indicate that vaccination against induced NY-ESO-1 expression can produce an antigen-specific immune response in a relatively nonimmunogenic myeloid cancer and highlight the potential for induced antigen-directed immunotherapy in a group of patients with limited options.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research