Purpose:

Personalized vaccines targeting multiple neoantigens (nAgs) are a promising strategy for eliciting a diversified antitumor T-cell response to overcome tumor heterogeneity. NOUS-PEV is a vector-based personalized vaccine, expressing 60 nAgs and consists of priming with a nonhuman Great Ape Adenoviral vector (GAd20) followed by boosts with Modified Vaccinia Ankara. Here, we report data of a phase Ib trial of NOUS-PEV in combination with pembrolizumab in treatment-naïve patients with metastatic melanoma (NCT04990479).

Patients and Methods:

The feasibility of this approach was demonstrated by producing, releasing, and administering to 6 patients 11 of 12 vaccines within 8 weeks from biopsy collection to GAd20 administration.

Results:

The regimen was safe, with no treatment-related serious adverse events observed and mild vaccine-related reactions. Vaccine immunogenicity was demonstrated in all evaluable patients receiving the prime/boost regimen, with detection of robust neoantigen-specific immune responses to multiple neoantigens comprising both CD4 and CD8 T cells. Expansion and diversification of vaccine-induced T-cell receptor (TCR) clonotypes was observed in the posttreatment biopsies of patients with clinical response, providing evidence of tumor infiltration by vaccine-induced neoantigen-specific T cells.

Conclusions:

These findings indicate the ability of NOUS-PEV to amplify and broaden the repertoire of tumor-reactive T cells to empower a diverse, potent, and durable antitumor immune response. Finally, a gene signature indicative of the reduced presence of activated T cells together with very poor expression of the antigen-processing machinery genes has been identified in pretreatment biopsies as a potential biomarker of resistance to the treatment.

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