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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, Volume 7, Issue 1, April 2019, Article number 104.

The published version is available at Copyright © Snook et al.


Background: The colorectal cancer antigen GUCY2C exhibits unique split tolerance, evoking antigen-specific CD8+, but not CD4+, T-cell responses that deliver anti-tumor immunity without autoimmunity in mice. Here, the cancer vaccine Ad5-GUCY2C-PADRE was evaluated in a first-in-man phase I clinical study of patients with early-stage colorectal cancer to assess its safety and immunological efficacy.

Methods: Ten patients with surgically-resected stage I or stage II (pN0) colon cancer received a single intramuscular injection of 1011 viral particles (vp) of Ad5-GUCY2C-PADRE. Safety assessment and immunomonitoring were carried out for 6 months following immunization. This trial employed continual monitoring of both efficacy and toxicity of subjects as joint primary outcomes.

Results: All patients receiving Ad5-GUCY2C-PADRE completed the study and none developed adverse events greater than grade 1. Antibody responses to GUCY2C were detected in 10% of patients, while 40% exhibited GUCY2C-specific T-cell responses. GUCY2C-specific responses were exclusively CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, mimicking pre-clinical studies in mice in which GUCY2C-specific CD4+ T cells are eliminated by self-tolerance, while CD8+ T cells escape tolerance and mediate antitumor immunity. Moreover, pre-existing neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) to the Ad5 vector were associated with poor vaccine-induced responses, suggesting that Ad5 NAbs oppose GUCY2C immune responses to the vaccine in patients and supported by mouse studies.

Conclusions: Split tolerance to GUCY2C in cancer patients can be exploited to safely generate antigen-specific cytotoxic CD8+, but not autoimmune CD4+, T cells by Ad5-GUCY2C-PADRE in the absence of pre-existing NAbs to the viral vector.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: This trial (NCT01972737) was registered at on October 30th, 2013.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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