Purpose:

Although chemotherapy is standard of care for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), immunotherapy has no role in microsatellite stable (MSS) mCRC, a “cold” tumor. PolyPEPI1018 is an off-the-shelf, multi-peptide vaccine derived from 7 tumor-associated antigens (TAA) frequently expressed in mCRC. This study assessed PolyPEPI1018 combined with first-line maintenance therapy in patients with MSS mCRC.

Patients and Methods:

Eleven patients with MSS mCRC received PolyPEPI1018 and Montanide ISA51VG adjuvant subcutaneously, combined with fluoropyrimidine/biologic following first-line induction with chemotherapy and a biologic (NCT03391232). In Part A of the study, 5 patients received a single dose; in Part B, 6 patients received up to three doses of PolyPEPI1018 every 12 weeks. The primary objective was safety; secondary objectives were preliminary efficacy, immunogenicity at peripheral and tumor level, and immune correlates.

Results:

PolyPEPI1018 vaccination was safe and well tolerated. No vaccine-related serious adverse event occurred. Eighty percent of patients had CD8+ T-cell responses against ≥3 TAAs. Increased density of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes were detected post-treatment for 3 of 4 patients’ liver biopsies, combined with increased expression of immune-related gene signatures. Three patients had objective response according to RECISTv1.1, and 2 patients qualified for curative surgery. Longer median progression-free survival for patients receiving multiple doses compared with a single dose (12.5 vs. 4.6 months; P = 0.017) suggested a dose–efficacy correlation. The host HLA genotype predicted multi-antigen–specific T-cell responses (P = 0.01) indicative of clinical outcome.

Conclusions:

PolyPEPI1018 added to maintenance chemotherapy for patients with unresectable, MSS mCRC was safe and associated with specific immune responses and antitumor activity warranting further confirmation in a randomized, controlled setting.

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