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Clinical Oncology/Epidemiology

A randomised dose escalation study of subcutaneous interleukin 2 with and without levamisole in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma

Abstract

We have examined the efficacy, toxicity and host immunological response of two different dose schedules of interleukin 2 (IL-2) given subcutaneously, daily for 3 months in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) or metastatic melanoma (MM). We also examined the effect of adding the immune modulator levamisole to the two different schedules of IL-2. Thirty-nine patients were entered into two sequential phase I/II studies. Eighteen patients entered study 1 and were randomised to receive IL-2, 3 x 10(6) IU m-2 day-1, subcutaneously for 3 months with or without levamisole 50 mg t.d.s. p.o. on days 1-3 on alternate weeks. Twenty-one patients entered study 2 and were randomised to receive 5.4 x 10(6) IU m-2 day-1 subcutaneously for 3 months with or without levamisole 50 mg t.d.s. p.o. on days 1-3 on alternate weeks. Blood was taken for peripheral blood lymphocyte (PBL) phenotype analysis, and measurement of IL-2, soluble IL-2 receptor (sIL-2R) and neopterin concentration. Two patients with metastatic melanoma, one in each study, responded (11.8%); both received IL-2 alone. Observations of immunological parameters showed that treatment with subcutaneous IL-2 resulted in a significant rise in the percentage of PBLs bearing CD25, CD3/HLA-DR, CD56 and levels of IL-2 receptor and neopterin. The total white blood cell count (WBC) and total lymphocyte count rose significantly on day 18 compared with pretreatment levels. The addition of levamisole to either IL-2 schedule resulted in no significant changes in any immunological parameters. This study illustrates that prolonged subcutaneous IL-2 can be given safely in the outpatient setting. There was no evidence that levamisole acts as an immunomodulator in this study.

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Ahmed, F., Leonard, G., A'Hern, R. et al. A randomised dose escalation study of subcutaneous interleukin 2 with and without levamisole in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma. Br J Cancer 74, 1109–1113 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1038/bjc.1996.498

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