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An Open-label, Randomized Phase IIB/III Active Control Study of Second-line Hyper-Acute(R)-Lung (Tergenpumatucel-L) Immunotherapy Versus Docetaxel in Progressive or Relapsed Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Phase 2/Phase 3
18 Years
Open (Enrolling)
Non-small Cell Lung Cancer, Progression of Non-small Cell Lung Cancer, Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Recurrent

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Trial Information

An Open-label, Randomized Phase IIB/III Active Control Study of Second-line Hyper-Acute(R)-Lung (Tergenpumatucel-L) Immunotherapy Versus Docetaxel in Progressive or Relapsed Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains the leading cause of cancer death in men and
women in the United States. Despite advances in the treatment of advanced NSCLC in the last
decade, survival outcomes remain poor. Treatment benefit from cytotoxic chemotherapy has
reached a plateau and further progress will depend upon identifying novel methods to target
tumor cells.

Harnessing the human immune system to target lung cancer could result in the development of
effective treatment options against lung cancer and potentially enhance the effect of
cytotoxic chemotherapy. Lung cancer cells produce a number of abnormal proteins or abnormal
amounts of certain proteins found in normal lung cells. In some cancers, the abnormal
protein expression may lead to an immune response against the cancer cells much in the way
the immune system responds to an infection. In progressive lung cancer however, the immune
system fails to identify or respond to these abnormalities and the cancer cells are not
attacked or destroyed for reasons not yet fully understood. This clinical trial proposes a
novel method to stimulate the immune system to recognize the abnormal components found in
lung cancer cells and to stimulate an immune response that destroys or blocks the growth of
the cancer.

This new method of treatment helps the immune system of lung cancer patients to "identify"
and target the cancerous tissue. As an example, patients who receive an organ transplant to
replace a damaged kidney or heart are treated with special drugs to supress their immune
response from destroying or "rejecting" the transplanted organ. This "rejection" occurs when
the patient's immune system responds to differences between the cells of the transplanted
organ and their own immune system by attacking the foreign tissue in the same way as it
would attack infected tissue. When the differences between foreign tissues and the patient's
body are even larger, perhaps like differences between organs from pigs and the immune
system cells of humans, the rejection is very rapid, highly destructive and the immunity it
generates is long-lasting. This is called hyperacute rejection and the medicine used to
immunize patients in this protocol tries to harness this response to teach a patient's
immune system to fight their lung cancer just as the body would learn to reject a
transplanted organ from an animal.

To do this, we have placed a mouse gene into cultured human lung cancer cell lines. These
cells will express a sugar that will stimulate a strong immune response in humans. These
cancer cells are irradiated to prevent any growth and then injected along with chemotherapy
to patients with lung cancer. The presence of the sugar will stimulate the patient's immune
system to kill the injected immunotherapy cells. As part of the process of destroying the
immunotherapy cells, the patient's immune system is stimulated to identify as many
differences between these cancer cells and normal human cells. This extra stimulation is
thought to encourage immune responses against the lung cancer in the patient based on shared
abnormalities of lung cancer immunotherapy cells and the patient's lung cancer cells.

In this experimental therapy, patients are given docetaxel or injections of an immunotherapy
consisting of three types of modified lung cancer cells. We propose to test these treatments
in patients with lung cancer who have progressed after initial chemotherapy to demonstrate
that treatment of immunotherapy results in improved tumor stabilization or response and
could potentially improve the patient's overall survival.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Histological diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Squamous cell
(epidermoid), adenocarcinoma, bronchoalveolar carcinoma, and large cell anaplastic
lung carcinoma histologies are eligible as are mixed histologies of NSCLC (i.e.,
adenosquamous). Mixed NSCLC/small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC), and variant large and
small cell lung cancer are not eligible.

- Stage IIIB (AJCC Stage IIIB - Any T,N3M0 or T4N2M0) or Metastatic (AJCC Stage IV- any
T, any N, M1), progressive, recurrent or refractory NSCLC. Patients may not be
eligible for other curative intent treatment (e.g., surgical resection).

For the purpose of eligibility for this trial, the above-cited disease states are defined
as follows:

- Progressive NSCLC: Defined as increasing measurable disease, or the appearance of new
measurable disease by Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) criteria
despite treatment.

- Recurrent NSCLC: Defined as the re-appearance of measurable disease, or the
appearance of new measurable disease by RECIST Criteria after prior successful
treatment or complete response.

- Refractory NSCLC: Defined as achieving less than a complete response and having
residual measurable disease by RECIST criteria after prior treatment with
chemotherapy, targeted or small molecules, monoclonal antibodies or any combination
of these.

- Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG)Performance Status ≤ 1.

- Serum albumin ≥3.0 gm/dL.

- Expected survival ≥4 months.

- Adequate organ function including:

1. Marrow: Hemoglobin ≥10.0 dm/dL, absolute granulocyte count (AGC)≥1,000/mm^3,
platelets ≥100,000/mm^3, absolute lymphocyte count ≥1000/mm^3.

2. Hepatic: Serum total bilirubin ≤1.5 x upper limit of normal (ULN) with the
exception of <2.9 mg/dL for patients with Gilbert's disease, alanine
aminotransferase (ALT/SGPT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST/SGOT) ≤2.5 x

3. Renal: Serum creatinine (sCr) ≤1.5 x upper limit of normal, or creatinine
clearance (Ccr) ≥50 mL/min.

- Measurable disease as defined by RECIST Criteria.

- Prior therapy for NSCLC that may include surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy
and/or ≤ 2 prior chemotherapy regimens (including neoadjuvant and adjuvant

- Treatment with a single course of gefitinib(Iressa®) or erlotinib (Tarceva®), or
other small molecule or targeted therapies, or monoclonal antibody therapy (excluding
docetaxel) will be considered and count as prior chemotherapy.

- Patients receiving preoperative (Neoadjuvant) and postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy
(within 12 weeks of surgery) with the same agent(s) will be considered to have
received a single chemotherapy regimen.

- Patients must be ≥ 4 weeks since major surgery, chemotherapy (6-weeks if they were
treated with a nitrosourea or mitomycin) or biotherapy/target therapies and ≥ 2 weeks
since radiotherapy.

- Patients must have the ability to understand the study, its risks, side effects,
potential benefits and be able to give written informed consent to participate.
Patients may not be consented by a durable power of attorney (DPA).

- Male and female subjects of child producing potential must agree to use contraception
or avoidance of pregnancy measures while enrolled on study and receiving the
experimental drug and for one month after the last immunization.

Exclusion Criteria:

- Age < 18-years-old.

- Active central nervous system (CNS) disease, metastases or carcinomatous meningitis.
Patients with CNS metastases must be at least 2 weeks status post prior therapy to
the brain and be off all steroids without progressing CNS disease.

- Hypercalcemia >2.9 mmol/L, unresponsive to standard therapy (e.g., I.V. hydration,
diuretics, calcitonin and/or bisphosphate therapy).

- Pregnant or nursing women due to the unknown effects of immunization on the
developing fetus or newborn infant.

- Other malignancy within three years, unless the probability of recurrence is <5%.
Patients curatively treated for squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma of
the skin and carcinoma in situ of the uterine cervix (CIN) or patients with a history
of malignant tumor in the past that have been disease free for at least five years
are also eligible for this study.

- History of organ transplant, or current active immunosuppressive therapy (such as
cyclosporine, tacrolimus, etc.).

- Subjects taking systemic corticosteroid therapy for any reason including replacement
therapy for hypoadrenalism, are not eligible. Subjects receiving inhaled or topical
corticosteroids are eligible. Decadron treatment with docetaxel is acceptable.

- Significant or uncontrolled congestive heart failure (CHF), myocardial infarction,
significant ventricular arrhythmias within the last six months or significant
pulmonary dysfunction.

- Active infection or antibiotics within 48 hours prior to study enrollment, including
unexplained fever (temp > 38.1°C) if deemed clinically significant by the treating

- Autoimmune disease (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis
(RA), etc.). Patients with a remote history of asthma or mild active asthma are

- Other serious medical conditions that may be expected to limit life expectancy to
less than 2 years (e.g., liver cirrhosis).

- Any condition, psychiatric or otherwise, that would preclude informed consent,
consistent follow-up or compliance with any aspect of the study (e.g., untreated
schizophrenia or other significant cognitive impairment, etc).

- A known allergy to any component of the HyperAcute®-Lung immunotherapy or cell lines
from which it is derived.

- Patients having undergone splenectomy.

- Known HIV positive.

- Subjects who received any prior treatment with docetaxel or pemetrexed are excluded.
Patients who have received gemcitabine in first line therapy but do not have squamous
cell carcinoma, will be eligible as they can receive pemetrexed for the salvage

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Treatment

Outcome Measure:

Overall survival

Outcome Description:

The primary objective in Phase IIB and Phase III is to assess overall survival of anti-tumor immunization using HyperAcute®-Lung (HAL) Immunotherapy versus docetaxel in patients with progressed or relapsed non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that have been previously treated.

Outcome Time Frame:

Approximately 19 months, assuming a 24 month enrollment.

Safety Issue:


Principal Investigator

Nicholas N Vahanian, MD

Investigator Role:

Study Director

Investigator Affiliation:

NewLink Genetics Corporation


United States: Food and Drug Administration

Study ID:




Start Date:

January 2013

Completion Date:

July 2015

Related Keywords:

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Progression of Non-small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Recurrent
  • Non-small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Vaccine Therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Second line therapy
  • Progressive
  • Relapsed
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung
  • Lung Neoplasms



Washington University School of Medicine Saint Louis, Missouri  63110
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio  45267-0502
University of Tennessee Medical Center Knoxville, Tennessee  37920