Prime and boost vaccination against HER2/neu in breast cancer

Xiao Yan Wang, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women with approximately 180,000 new cases being diagnosed yearly in the United States (1). HER2/neu gene amplification and subsequent protein overexpression is found in 20–30% of breast cancer patients and can lead to the promotion of various metastasis-related properties (2–4) and/or resistance to cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation (5). The protein product of the HER2/neu gene, p185, is a proven target for immunological therapy. Recently, passive immunotherapy with the monoclonal antibody Trastuzumab® has validated an immunological approach to HER2/neu+ breast cancer. Immunity to HER2/ neu, when found in breast cancer patients, is of low magnitude. Vaccination-induced HER2/neu-specific antibodies and HER2/neu-specific cytotoxic T cells could result in long-lived immunity with therapeutic benefit. Many features of DNA vaccines and attenuated viral vectors may contribute to the efficacy of prime-boost vaccination. In particular, vaccines capable of eliciting strong cell-mediated immunity are thought to hold the greatest promise for control of cancer (6–9). To optimize cellular immunization to HER2/neu in my study, the HER2/neu gene was presented to the immune system using a priming vector followed by a second vector used as the boost. In both animals and humans, priming with DNA and boosting with a poxviruses, vaccinia or canarypox appears to be particularly promising for induction of a broad immune responses (10). I tested three gene vaccines encoding the HER2/neu gene: (1) a plasmid, SINCP, that contains part of the genome of Sindbis virus; (2) Viral Replicon Particles (VRP) of Venezuela Equine Encephalitis virus (VEE) and (3) E1/E2a-deleted human Type 5 Adenovirus. In SINCP and the VRP, the caspid and envelope genes of the virus were deleted and replaced with the gene for HER2/neu. SINCP-neu, VRP- neu and Adeno-neu when used alone were effective vaccines protecting healthy mice from challenge with a breast cancer cell line injected in the mammary fat pad or injected i.v. to induce experimental lung metastasis. However, SINCP-neu, VRP-neu or Adeno-neu when used alone were not able to prolong survival of mice in therapeutic models in which vaccination occurred after injection of a breast cancer cell line. When the vaccines were combined in a mixed regimen of a SINCP- neu prime VRP-neu or Adeno-neu boost, there was a significant difference in tumor growth and survival in the therapeutic vaccine models. In vitro assays demonstrated that vaccination with each of the three vaccines induced IgG specific for p185, the gene product of HER2/neu, induced p185-specific T lymphocytes, as measured by tetramer analysis. Vaccination also induced intracellular INF-γ and a positive ELISPOT assay. These findings indicate that SINCP-neu, VRP-neu and Adeno-neu, used alone or in combination, may have clinical potential as adjuvant immunotherapy for the treatment of HER2/neu-expressing tumors.

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Recommended Citation

Wang, Xiao Yan, "Prime and boost vaccination against HER2/neu in breast cancer" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3148955.