Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 225–234 | Cite as

Phase I trial of a recombinant yeast-CEA vaccine (GI-6207) in adults with metastatic CEA-expressing carcinoma

  • Marijo Bilusic
  • Christopher R. Heery
  • Philip M. Arlen
  • Myrna Rauckhorst
  • David Apelian
  • Kwong Y. Tsang
  • Jo A. Tucker
  • Caroline Jochems
  • Jeffrey Schlom
  • James L. GulleyEmail author
  • Ravi A. Madan
Original Article


Yeast-CEA (GI-6207) is a therapeutic cancer vaccine genetically modified to express recombinant carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) protein, using heat-killed yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) as a vector. In preclinical studies, yeast-CEA induced a strong immune response to CEA and antitumor responses. Patients received subcutaneous vaccines every 2 weeks for 3 months and then monthly. Patients were enrolled at 3 sequential dose levels: 4, 16, and 40 yeast units (107 yeast particles/unit). Eligible patients were required to have serum CEA > 5 ng/mL or > 20 % CEA+ tumor block, ECOG PS 0–2, and no history of autoimmunity. Restaging scans were performed at 3 months and then bimonthly. Peripheral blood was collected for the analysis of immune response (e.g., by ELISPOT assay). Twenty-five patients with metastatic CEA-expressing carcinomas were enrolled. Median patient age was 52 (range 39–81). A total of 135 vaccines were administered. The vaccine was well tolerated, and the most common adverse event was grade 1/2 injection-site reaction. Five patients had stable disease beyond 3 months (range 3.5–18 months), and each had CEA stabilization while on-study. Some patients showed evidence post-vaccination of increases in antigen-specific CD8+ T cells and CD4+ T lymphocytes and decreases in regulatory T cells. Of note, a patient with medullary thyroid cancer had substantial T cell responses and a vigorous inflammatory reaction at sites of metastatic disease. Yeast-CEA vaccination had minimal toxicity and induced some antigen-specific T cell responses and CEA stabilization in a heterogeneous, heavily pre-treated patient population. Further studies are required to determine the clinical benefit of yeast-CEA vaccination.


Yeast-CEA vaccine Immunity Medullary thyroid cancer ELISPOT Immunotherapy 



This study was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. The authors thank Diane J. Poole for her technical assistance and Zhimin Guo, who was involved in early preclinical development of the vaccine. The authors also thank Bonnie L. Casey and Debra Weingarten for their editorial assistance in the preparation of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

262_2013_1505_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (149 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 148 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marijo Bilusic
    • 1
  • Christopher R. Heery
    • 2
  • Philip M. Arlen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Myrna Rauckhorst
    • 2
  • David Apelian
    • 3
  • Kwong Y. Tsang
    • 2
  • Jo A. Tucker
    • 2
  • Caroline Jochems
    • 2
  • Jeffrey Schlom
    • 2
  • James L. Gulley
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ravi A. Madan
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Medical Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer ResearchNational Cancer Institute, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer ResearchNational Cancer Institute, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  3. 3.GlobeImmune Inc.LouisvilleUSA

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