The authors conducted exploratory phase 1-2 clinical trials vaccinating breast cancer patients with E75, a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) A2/A3–restricted HER-2/neu (HER2) peptide, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor. The vaccine is given as adjuvant therapy to prevent disease recurrence. They previously reported that the vaccine is safe and effective in stimulating expansion of E75-specific cytotoxic T cells. Here, they report 24-month landmark analyses of disease-free survival (DFS).
These dose escalation/schedule optimization trials enrolled lymph node-positive and high-risk lymph node-negative patients with HER2 (immunohistochemistry [IHC] 1-3+) expressing tumors. HLA-A2/A3+ patients were vaccinated; others were followed prospectively as controls for recurrence. DFS was analyzed by Kaplan-Meier curves; groups were compared using log-rank tests.
Of 195 enrolled patients, 182 were evaluable: 106 (58.2%) in the vaccinated group and 76 (41.8%) in the control group. The 24-month landmark analysis DFS was 94.3% in the vaccinated group and 86.8% in the control group (P = .08). Importantly, because of trial design, 65% of patients received a lower than optimal vaccine dose. In subset analyses, patients who benefited most from vaccination (vaccinated group vs control group) had lymph node-positive (DFS, 90.2% vs 79.1%; P = .13), HER2 IHC 1+-2+ (DFS, 94.0% vs 79.4%; P = .04), or grade 1 or 2 (DFS, 98.4% vs 86.0%; P = .01) tumors and were optimally dosed (DFS, 97.3% vs 86.8%; P = .08). A booster program has been initiated; no patients receiving booster inoculations have recurred.
The E75 vaccine has clinical efficacy that is more prominent in certain patients. A phase 3 trial enrolling lymph node-positive patients with HER2 low-expressing tumors is warranted. Cancer 2011. © 2011 American Cancer Society.