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Expert Point of View: Navid Hafez, MD, MPH


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Ilixadencel is essentially a dendritic cell vaccine without preloaded antigens. In the MERECA study, ilixadencel produced “a great signal,” though this approach is still very experimental, said the study’s invited discussant, Navid Hafez, MD, MPH, of Yale Cancer Center. Dr. Hafez is a member of the phase I trial division there.

Navid Hafez, MD, MPH

Navid Hafez, MD, MPH

“The confirmed complete response rate was exciting, and the prolonged duration of response in some patients is certainly a signal of something to build on,” he said. “But the overall and progression-free survival rates are, so far, not different, so we are waiting on mature data.”

Dr. Hafez described what he called the “pros and cons” of this approach, first noting that dendritic vaccines are a much simpler approach than some other types of vaccines and have yielded some encouraging results. The “exciting thing” about ilixadencel, he said, is that it’s off-the-shelf and therefore relatively easy to produce. “You’re really just relying on the endogenous immunity that should be there [in the patient] from the native tumoral antigens.”

But a “con,” he continued, is that the intratumoral delivery could prove to be a barrier to its use, although it is possible that a beneficial abscopal effect might occur. “Of course, this approach is technically somewhat challenging,” he commented. “We can’t just administer this in our infusion centers or at our clinic visits. We need to coordinate with interventional radiology.”

Dr. Hafez believes the best results will probably not come from dendritic cell therapy in its present form, but from its optimization—engineered or administered differently, perhaps, or combined with immunotherapy. 

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Hafez reported no conflicts of interest.

 


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Ilixadencel is a cell-based, allogeneic, off-the-shelf product aimed at priming the anticancer immune response when injected intratumorally. The phase II MERECA study evaluated this allogeneic dendritic cell product given with sunitinib in 88 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The study ...

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