Clinical translation of peptide-based vaccine trials: The HER-2/neu model

M. L. Disis, K. L. Knutson, D. G. McNeel, D. Davis, K. Schiffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In the development of targeted cancer immunotherapies, the choice of antigen is obviously critical to the design of any therapeutic strategy, but particularly so for tumor vaccines, which must distinguish malignant cells from normal cells. Investigations a decade ago focused on mutated tumor antigens, or viral tumor antigens, with the belief that these foreign or abnormal proteins would be best recognized by the host immune system. Within the last 10 years, however, several tumor antigens have been identified on the basis of recognition by infiltrating T cells in tumor samples. Studies on melanoma, in particular, have revealed that in addition to some mutated tumor antigens, several aberrantly expressed normal proteins, as well as tissue-specific differentiation factors, are recognized by the host immune system. Similar studies in other solid tumors have revealed that certain oncogenes overexpressed in malignant cells, such as p53 and HER-2/neu, are also recognized by host T cells. Our group has been investigating the HER-2/neu oncogenic protein as a vaccine target in patients with HER-2/neu-overexpressing cancers. However, several issues unique to the design of human clinical trials of cancer vaccines must be addressed when translating preclinical experiments to human clinical trials. First, HER-2/neu protein expression can vary depending on the tumor type. How would expression differences impact clinical trial design? Secondly, what are the issues in clinical trial design that are critical to the successful execution of a phase I study of a peptide-based vaccine? Thirdly, what types and amounts of clinical material are readily available for immunologic analysis and can be obtained with little distress and risk to the patients enrolled in the study? Finally, what steps must be implemented for a laboratory assay to evolve to meet the validation criteria needed for application as an immunologic monitoring tool?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-273
Number of pages11
JournalCritical reviews in immunology
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Breast
  • Cancer vaccines
  • Clinical trial
  • HER-2/neu
  • Immunity
  • Lung
  • Ovarian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Clinical translation of peptide-based vaccine trials: The HER-2/neu model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this