Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 2012-12-15
Topical TLR7 agonist imiquimod can induce immune-mediated rejection of skin metastases in patients with breast cancer.   
Skin metastases of breast cancer remain a therapeutic challenge. Toll-like receptor 7 agonist imiquimod is an immune response modifier and can induce immune-mediated rejection of primary skin malignancies when topically applied. Here we tested the hypothesis that topical imiquimod stimulates local antitumor immunity and induces the regression of breast cancer skin metastases.
A prospective clinical trial was designed to evaluate the local tumor response rate of breast cancer skin metastases treated with topical imiquimod, applied 5 d/wk for 8 weeks. Safety and immunologic correlates were secondary objectives.
Ten patients were enrolled and completed the study. Imiquimod treatment was well tolerated, with only grade 1 to 2 transient local and systemic side effects consistent with imiquimod's immunomodulatory effects. Two patients achieved a partial response [20%; 95% confidence interval (CI), 3%-56%]. Responders showed histologic tumor regression with evidence of an immune-mediated response, showed by changes in the tumor lymphocytic infiltrate and locally produced cytokines.
Topical imiquimod is a beneficial treatment modality for breast cancer metastatic to skin/chest wall and is well tolerated. Importantly, imiquimod can promote a proimmunogenic tumor microenvironment in breast cancer. Preclinical data generated by our group suggest superior results with a combination of imiquimod and ionizing radiation and we are currently testing in patients whether the combination can further improve antitumor immune and clinical responses.

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