Objectives. Prostate cancer recurrence, evidenced by rising prostate- specific antigen (PSA) levels after radical prostatectomy, is an increasingly prevalent clinical problem in need of new treatment options. Preclinical studies have suggested that for tumors in general, settings of minimal cancer volume may be uniquely suitable for recombinant vaccine therapy targeting tumor-associated antigens. A clinical study was undertaken to evaluate the safety and biologic effects of vaccinia-PSA (PROSTVAC) administered to subjects with postprostatectomy recurrence of prostate cancer and to assess the feasibility of interrupted androgen deprivation as a tool for modulating expression of the vaccine target antigen, as well as detecting vaccine bioactivity in vivo. Methods. A limited Phase I clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the safety and biologic effects of vaccinia-PSA administered in 6 patients with androgen-modulated recurrence of prostate cancer after radical prostatectomy. End points included toxicity, serum PSA rise related to serum testosterone restoration, and immunologic effects measured by Western blot analysis for anti-PSA antibody induction. Results. Toxicity was minimal, and dose-limiting toxicity was not observed. Noteworthy variability in time required for testosterone restoration (after interruption of androgen deprivation therapy) was observed. One subject showed continued undetectable serum PSA (less than 0.2 ng/mL) for over 8 months after testosterone restoration, an interval longer than those reported in previous androgen deprivation interruption studies. Primary anti-PSA IgG antibody activity was induced after vaccinia-PSA immunization in 1 subject, although such antibodies were detectable in several subjects at baseline. Conclusions. Interrupted androgen deprivation may be a useful tool for modulating prostate cancer bioactivity in clinical trials developing novel biologic therapies. Immune responses against PSA may be present among some patients with prostate cancer at baseline and may be induced in others through vaccinia-PSA immunization.
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