Immunotherapy for Osteosarcoma: Genetic Modification of T cells Overcomes Low Levels of Tumor Antigen Expression

Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
Molecular Therapy (Impact Factor: 6.43). 07/2009; 17(10):1779-87. DOI: 10.1038/mt.2009.133
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is expressed by the majority of human osteosarcomas and is a risk factor for poor outcome. Unlike breast cancer, osteosarcoma cells express HER2 at too low, a level for patients to benefit from HER2 monoclonal antibodies. We reasoned that this limitation might be overcome by genetically modifying T cells with HER2-specific chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), because even a low frequency of receptor engagement could be sufficient to induce effector cell killing of the tumor. HER2-specific T cells were generated by retroviral transduction with a HER2-specific CAR containing a CD28.zeta signaling domain. HER2-specific T cells recognized HER2-positive osteosarcoma cells as judged by their ability to proliferate, produce immunostimulatory T helper 1 cytokines, and kill HER2-positive osteosarcoma cell lines in vitro. The adoptive transfer of HER2-specific T cells caused regression of established osteosarcoma xenografts in locoregional as well as metastatic mouse models. In contrast, delivery of nontransduced (NT) T cells did not change the tumor growth pattern. Genetic modification of T cells with CARs specific for target antigens, expressed at too low a level to be effectively recognized by monoclonal antibodies, may allow immunotherapy to be more broadly applicable for human cancer therapy.

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