Object. To determine the feasibility, toxicity, and potential therapeutic benefits of systemic adoptive immunotherapy, 10 patients with progressive primary or recurrent malignant glioma received this treatment. Adoptive immunotherapy, the transfer of immune T lymphocytes, is capable of mediating the regression of experimental brain tumors in animal models. In animal models, lymph nodes (LNs) that drain the tumor vaccine site are a rich source of tumor-immune T cells.
Methods. In this clinical study, patients were inoculated intradermally with irradiated autologous tumor cells and granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor as an adjuvant. Cells from draining inguinal LNs, surgically resected 7 days after vaccination, were stimulated sequentially with staphylococcal enterotoxin A and anti-CD3, and a low dose of interleukin-2 (60 IU/ml) was used to expand the stimulated cells. The maximum cell proliferation was 350-fold over 10 days of culture. The activated cells were virtually all T cells consisting of various proportions of CD4 and CD8 cells. These cells were given to patients by intravenous infusion at doses ranging from 9 × 108 to 1.5 × 1011. There were no Grade 3 or 4 toxicities associated with the treatment. Following T-cell transfer therapy, radiographic regression that lasted at least 6 months was demonstrated in two patients with recurrent tumors. One patient demonstrated stable disease that has lasted for more than 17 months. The remaining patients had progressive disease; however, four of the eight patients with recurrent tumor remain alive more than 1 year after surgery for recurrence. Three patients required intervention with corticosteroid agents or additional surgery approximately 1 month following cell transfer.
Conclusions. These intriguing clinical observations warrant further trials to determine whether this approach can provide therapeutic benefits and improve survival.