What is the role of vaccines in the treatment of renal cell carcinoma (RCC)?

Updated: Feb 19, 2021
  • Author: Kush Sachdeva, MD; Chief Editor: E Jason Abel, MD  more...
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Vaccine trials are in early stages of development. Few antigens have been identified that induce T-cell responses from renal cell carcinoma. One example of vaccine strategy is to induce the gene for granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) into autologous cultured renal cell cancer lines by retroviral transduction. Patients are then immunized with irradiated tumor cells secreting large amounts of GM-CSF and are evaluated for immune responses and clinical tumor regression. Other approaches to vaccination include tumor lysates and dendritic cells.

The experimental agent AGS-003 is produced by extracting messenger RNA from a sample of a patient's tumor (obtained at the time of nephrectomy) and incorporating it into the patient's dendritic cells (obtained during a single leukapheresis procedure), thereby providing personalized immunotherapy. In a single-group phase II study of 21 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, combination therapy with AGS-003 and sunitinib prolonged expected survival time.

For intermediate-risk patients, median overall survival was 39.5 months, versus 20.7 months reported in a different trial in which sunitinib was used alone; comparable survival figures for poor-risk patients were 9.1 versus 5.8 months. [69] This evidence of prolonged survival prompted a larger phase 3 trial, completion of which is expected in 2017.

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