The Toll-like receptor (TLR) 7/8 agonist resiquimod has been used as an immune adjuvant in cancer vaccines. We evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of the cancer testis antigen NY-ESO-1 given in combination with Montanide (Seppic) with or without resiquimod in patients with high-risk melanoma. In part I of the study, patients received 100 μg of full-length NY-ESO-1 protein emulsified in 1.25 mL of Montanide (day 1) followed by topical application of 1,000 mg of 0.2% resiquimod gel on days 1 and 3 (cohort 1) versus days 1, 3, and 5 (cohort 2) of a 21-day cycle. In part II, patients were randomized to receive 100-μg NY-ESO-1 protein plus Montanide (day 1) followed by topical application of placebo gel [(arm A; n = 8) or 1,000 mg of 0.2% resiquimod gel (arm B; n = 12)] using the dosing regimen established in part I. The vaccine regimens were generally well tolerated. NY-ESO-1–specific humoral responses were induced or boosted in all patients, many of whom had high titer antibodies. In part II, 16 of 20 patients in both arms had NY-ESO-1–specific CD4+ T-cell responses. CD8+ T-cell responses were only seen in 3 of 12 patients in arm B. Patients with TLR7 SNP rs179008 had a greater likelihood of developing NY-ESO-1–specific CD8+ responses. In conclusion, NY-ESO-1 protein in combination with Montanide with or without topical resiquimod is safe and induces both antibody and CD4+ T-cell responses in the majority of patients; the small proportion of CD8+ T-cell responses suggests that the addition of topical resiquimod to Montanide is not sufficient to induce consistent NY-ESO-1–specific CD8+ T-cell responses. Cancer Immunol Res; 3(3); 1–10. ©2015 AACR.
- Received October 28, 2014.
- Revision received December 12, 2014.
- Accepted December 16, 2014.
- ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.