Background: The monoclonal antibody 3H1 mimics the external structure of the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). It therefore has the potential, via the anti-idiotypic network, to stimulate immune responses to CEA that may benefit colorectal cancer patients.
Patients and methods: A total of 630 patients with previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer were randomised in a 2:1 fashion to receive bolus 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and leucovorin (LV) plus either 3H1 (n = 422) or placebo (n = 208).
Results: The addition of 3H1 to 5-FU and LV did not result in increased toxicity. Survival for the full intent-to-treat population was 14.7 months for the 3H1 arm and 15.2 months for the placebo arm (P = 0.80). Anti-CEA antibody responses were observed in 70% of patients treated with 3H1. Patients with a negative CEA response had a median survival of 8.3 months (95% CI 7.5-11.0) compared with patients with a strong response: median survival not reached (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: 3H1 is safe and effectively induces immune responses to CEA. Addition of 3H1 to 5-FU and LV was not shown to improve overall patient outcomes. However, improved survival in patients developing anti-CEA responses to 3H1 are provocative and should be studied in further clinical trials.
- carcinoembryonic antigen
- HUMAN CARCINOEMBRYONIC ANTIGEN