Research Papers:

A poxviral-based cancer vaccine targeting the transcription factor twist inhibits primary tumor growth and metastases in a model of metastatic breast cancer and improves survival in a spontaneous prostate cancer model

Anna R. Kwilas, Andressa Ardiani, Ulrike Dirmeier, Cornelia Wottawah, Jeffery Schlom and James W. Hodge _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:28194-28210. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4442

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Anna R. Kwilas1, Andressa Ardiani1, Ulrike Dirmeier2, Cornelia Wottawah2, Jeffery Schlom1,*, James W. Hodge1,*

1Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

2Bavarian Nordic, Martinsried, Germany and Mountain View, CA, USA

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

James W. Hodge, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: twist, vaccine, metastasis, TRICOM, immunotherapy

Received: January 21, 2015     Accepted: June 23, 2015     Published: July 06, 2015


Several transcription factors play a role in the alteration of gene expression that occurs during cancer metastasis. Twist expression has been shown to be associated with the hallmarks of the metastatic process, as well as poor prognosis and drug resistance in many tumor types. However, primarily due to their location within the cell and the lack of a hydrophobic groove required for drug attachment, transcription factors such as Twist are difficult to target with conventional therapies. An alternative therapeutic strategy is a vaccine comprised of a Modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), incorporating the Twist transgene and a TRIad of COstimulatory Molecules (B7-1, ICAM-1, LFA-3; TRICOM). Here we characterize an MVA-TWIST/TRICOM vaccine that induced both CD4+ and CD8+ Twist-specific T-cell responses in vivo. In addition, administration of this vaccine reduced both the primary tumor growth and metastasis in the 4T1 model of metastatic breast cancer. In the TRAMP transgenic model of spontaneous prostate cancer, MVA-TWIST/TRICOM alone significantly improved survival, and when combined with the androgen receptor antagonist enzalutamide, the vaccine further improved survival. These studies thus provide a rationale for the use of active immunotherapy targeting transcription factors involved in the metastatic process and for the combination of cancer vaccines with androgen deprivation.

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