George Coukos

University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland

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Publications (229)1475.37 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: T cells play a critical role in tumor immune surveillance as evidenced by extensive mouse-tumor model studies as well as encouraging patient responses to adoptive T cell therapies and dendritic cell vaccines. It is well established that the interplay of tumor cells with their local cellular environment can trigger events that are immunoinhibitory to T cells. More recently it is emerging that the tumor vasculature itself constitutes an important barrier to T cells. Endothelial cells lining the vessels can suppress T cell activity, target them for destruction, and block them from gaining entry into the tumor in the first place through the deregulation of adhesion molecules. Here we review approaches to break this tumor endothelial barrier and enhance T cell activity. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Current Opinion in Immunology 04/2015; 33. DOI:10.1016/j.coi.2015.01.011 · 7.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Angiogenesis plays a key role in tumor growth and cancer progression. TIE-2-expressing monocytes (TEM) have been reported to critically account for tumor vascularization and growth in mouse tumor experimental models, but the molecular basis of their pro-angiogenic activity are largely unknown. Moreover, differences in the pro-angiogenic activity between blood circulating and tumor infiltrated TEM in human patients has not been established to date, hindering the identification of specific targets for therapeutic intervention. In this work, we investigated these differences and the phenotypic reversal of breast tumor pro-angiogenic TEM to a weak pro-angiogenic phenotype by combining Boolean modelling and experimental approaches. Firstly, we show that, in breast cancer patients the pro-angiogenic activity of TEM increased drastically from blood to tumor suggesting that the tumor microenvironment shapes the highly pro-angiogenic phenotype of TEM. Secondly, we predicted in silico all minimal perturbations transitioning the highly pro-angiogenic phenotype of tumor TEM to the weak pro-angiogenic phenotype of blood TEM and vice versa. In silico predicted perturbations were validated experimentally using patient TEM. In addition, gene expression profiling of TEM transitioned to a weak pro-angiogenic phenotype confirmed that TEM are plastic cells and can be reverted to immunological potent monocytes. Finally, the relapse free survival analysis showed a statistically significant difference between patients with tumors with high and low expression values for genes encoding transitioning proteins detected in silico and validated on patient TEM. In conclusion, inferred TEM regulatory network accurately captured experimental TEM behavior and highlighted crosstalk between specific angiogenic and inflammatory signaling pathways of outstanding importance to control their pro-angiogenic activity. Results showed the successful in vitro reversion of such an activity by perturbation of in silico predicted target genes in tumor derived TEM, and indicated that targeting tumor TEM plasticity may constitute a novel valid therapeutic strategy in breast cancer.
    PLoS Computational Biology 03/2015; PLoS Comput Biol 11(3):e1004050. DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004050 · 4.83 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Clinical Oncology 03/2015; 33(11). DOI:10.1200/JCO.2014.59.2808 · 17.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: Chemokines are implicated in T cell trafficking. We mapped the chemokine landscape in advanced stage ovarian cancer and characterized the expression of cognate receptors in autologous DC-vaccine primed T cells in the context of cell-based immunotherapy. Experimental design: The expression of all known human chemokines in patients with primary ovarian cancer was analyzed on two independent microarray datasets and validated on tissue microarray. Peripheral blood T cells from five HLA-A2 patients with recurrent ovarian cancer, who previously received autologous tumor DC vaccine, underwent CD3/CD28 costimulation and expansion ex vivo. Tumor-specific T cells were identified by HER2/neu pentamer staining and were evaluated for the expression and functionality of chemokine receptors important for homing to ovarian cancer. Results: The chemokine landscape of ovarian cancer is heterogeneous with high expression of known lymphocyte-recruiting chemokines (CCL2, CCL4 and CCL5) in tumors with intraepithelial T cells, whereas CXCL10, CXCL12 and CXCL16 are expressed quasi-universally, including in tumors lacking tumor infiltrating T cells. DC-vaccine primed T cells were found to express the cognate receptors for the above chemokines. Ex vivo CD3/CD28 costimulation and expansion of vaccine-primed T cells upregulated CXCR3 and CXCR4, and enhanced their migration toward universally expressed chemokines in ovarian cancer. Conclusions: DC-primed tumor specific T cells are armed with the appropriate receptors to migrate towards universal ovarian cancer chemokines, and these receptors are further upregulated by ex vivo CD3/CD28 costimulation, which render T cells more fit for migrating towards these chemokines. Copyright © 2015, American Association for Cancer Research.
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    ABSTRACT: Effective treatment of ovarian cancer depends upon the early detection of the malignancy. Here, we report on the development of a new nanostructured immunosensor for early detection of cancer antigen 125 (CA-125). Gold electrode was modified with mercaptopropionic acid (MPA), then consecutively conjugated with silica coated gold nanoparticles (AuNPs@SiO 2), CdSe quantum dots (QDs) and anti CA-125 monoclonal antibody (mAb). The engineered MPA|AuNPs@SiO 2 |QD|mAb immunosensor was characterised using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), cyclic voltammetry (CV) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). Successive conjugation of AuNPs@SiO 2 , CdSe QD and anti CA-125 mAb onto the gold electrode resulted in sensitive detection of CA-125 with a limit of detection (LOD) of 0.0016 U/mL and linear detection range (LDR) of 0-0.1 U/mL. Based on the high sensitivity and specificity of the immunosensor, we propose this highly stable and reproducible biosensor for the early detection of CA-125 of the disease.
    Nanoscale 02/2015; 7(8). DOI:10.1039/c4nr06687a · 6.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most important antigen-presenting cell population for activating antitumor T-cell responses; therefore, they offer a unique opportunity for specific targeting of tumors. Areas covered: We will discuss the critical factors for the enhancement of DC vaccine efficacy: different DC subsets, types of in vitro DC manufacturing protocol, types of tumor antigen to be loaded and finally different adjuvants for activating them. We will cover potential combinatorial strategies with immunomodulatory therapies: depleting T-regulatory (Treg) cells, blocking VEGF and blocking inhibitory signals. Furthermore, recommendations to incorporate these criteria into DC-based tumor immunotherapy will be suggested. Expert opinion: Monocyte-derived DCs are the most widely used DC subset in the clinic, whereas Langerhans cells and plasmacytoid DCs are two emerging DC subsets that are highly effective in eliciting cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses. Depending on the type of tumor antigens selected for loading DCs, it is important to optimize a protocol that will generate highly potent DCs. The future aim of DC-based immunotherapy is to combine it with one or more immunomodulatory therapies, for example, Treg cell depletion, VEGF blockage and T-cell checkpoint blockage, to elicit the most optimal antitumor immunity to induce long-term remission or even cure cancer patients.
    Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy 01/2015; DOI:10.1517/14712598.2015.1000298 · 3.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phage display technology (PDT), a combinatorial screening approach, provides a molecular diversity tool for creating libraries of peptides/proteins and discovery of new recombinant therapeutics. Expression of proteins such as monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) on the surface of filamentous phage can permit the selection of high affinity and specificity therapeutic mAbs against virtually any target antigen. Using a number of diverse selection platforms (e.g. solid phase, solution phase, whole cell and in vivo biopannings), phage antibody libraries (PALs) from the start point provides great potential for the isolation of functional mAb fragments with diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes. Given the pivotal role of PDT in the discovery of novel therapeutic/diagnostic mAbs, in the current review, we provide an overview on PALs and discuss their impact in the advancement of engineered mAbs.
    Critical Reviews in Biotechnology 11/2014; DOI:10.3109/07388551.2014.958978 · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aberrant blood vessels enable tumor growth, provide a barrier to immune infiltration, and serve as a source of pro-tumorigenic signals. Targeting tumor blood vessels for destruction, or tumor vascular disruption therapy, can therefore provide significant therapeutic benefit. Here we describe the ability of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) bearing T cells to recognize human PSMA (hPSMA) on endothelial targets in vitro as well as in vivo. CAR T cells were generated using the anti-PSMA scFv, J591, and the intracellular signaling domains: CD3 zeta, CD28, and/or CD137/4-1BB. We found that all anti-hPSMA CAR T cells recognized and eliminated PSMA+ endothelial targets in vitro, regardless of signaling domain. T cells bearing the 3rd generation anti-hPSMA CAR, P28BBζ, were able to recognize and kill primary human endothelial cells isolated from gynecological cancers. In addition, the P28BBζ CAR T cells mediated regression of hPSMA-expressing vascular neoplasms in mice. Finally, in murine ovarian cancers models populated by murine vessels expressing hPSMA, the P28BBζ CAR T cells were able to ablate PSMA+ vessels, cause secondary depletion of tumor cells, and reduce tumor burden. Taken together, these results provide strong rationale for the use of CAR T cells as agents of tumor vascular disruption, specifically those targeting PSMA.
    10/2014; 3(1). DOI:10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-14-0192
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    ABSTRACT: Angiogenesis plays a key role in tumor growth and cancer progression. TIE-2-expressing monocytes (TEM) have been reported to critically account for tumor vascularization and growth in mouse tumor experimental models, but the molecular basis of their pro-angiogenic activity are largely unknown. Moreover, differences in the pro-angiogenic activity between blood circulating and tumor infiltrated TEM in human patients has not been established to date, hindering the identification of specific targets for therapeutic intervention. In this work, we investigated these differences and the phenotypic reversal of breast tumor pro-angiogenic TEM to a weak pro-angiogenic phenotype by combining Boolean modelling and experimental approaches.
    ECCB 2014, Strasbourg; 09/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Tumor Endothelial Marker-1 (TEM1/CD248) is a tumor vascular marker with high therapeutic and diagnostic potentials. Immuno-imaging with TEM1-specific antibodies can help to detect cancerous lesions, monitor tumor responses, and select patients that are most likely to benefit from TEM1-targeted therapies. In particular, near infrared(NIR) optical imaging with biomarker-specific antibodies can provide real-time, tomographic information without exposing the subjects to radioactivity. To maximize the theranostic potential of TEM1, we developed a panel of all human, multivalent Fc-fusion proteins based on a previously identified single chain antibody (scFv78) that recognizes both human and mouse TEM1. By characterizing avidity, stability, and pharmacokinectics, we identified one fusion protein, 78Fc, with desirable characteristics for immuno-imaging applications. The biodistribution of radiolabeled 78Fc showed that this antibody had minimal binding to normal organs, which have low expression of TEM1. Next, we developed a 78Fc-based tracer and tested its performance in different TEM1-expressing mouse models. The NIR imaging and tomography results suggest that the 78Fc-NIR tracer performs well in distinguishing mouse- or human-TEM1 expressing tumor grafts from normal organs and control grafts in vivo. From these results we conclude that further development and optimization of 78Fc as a TEM1-targeted imaging agent for use in clinical settings is warranted.
    Oncotarget 07/2014; · 6.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) infiltrate into sites of neovascularization in adult tissues and mature into functional blood endothelial cells (BECs) during a process called vasculogenesis. Human marrow-derived EPCs have recently been reported to display a mixed myeloid and lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) phenotype during inflammation-induced angiogenesis; however, their role in cancer remains poorly understood. We report the in vitro differentiation of human cord blood CD133(+)CD34(+) progenitors into podoplanin(+) cells expressing both myeloid markers (CD11b, CD14) and the canonical LEC markers vascular endothelium growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3), lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor 1 (LYVE-1), and prospero homeobox 1 (PROX-1). These podoplanin(+) cells displayed sprouting behavior comparable to that of LECs in vitro and a dual hemangiogenic and lymphangiogenic activity in vivo in an endothelial cell sprouting assay and corneal vascularization assay, respectively. Furthermore, these cells expressed vascular endothelium growth factor (VEGF) family members A, -C, and -D. Thus, bone-marrow derived EPCs stimulate hemangiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis through their ability to differentiate into LECs and to produce angiogenic factors. Importantly, plasma from patients with breast cancer induced differentiation of CD34(+) cord blood progenitors into hemangiogenic and lymphangiogenic CD11b(+) myeloid cells, whereas plasma from healthy women did not have this effect. Consistent with these findings, circulating CD11b(+) cells from breast cancer patients, but not from healthy women, displayed a similar dual angiogenic activity. Taken together, our results show that marrow-derived EPCs become hemangiogenic and lymphangiogenic upon exposure to cancer plasma. These newly identified functions of bone-marrow derived EPCs are expected to influence the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
    OncoImmunology 06/2014; 3:e29080. DOI:10.4161/onci.29080 · 6.28 Impact Factor
  • Gynecologic Oncology 06/2014; 133:176-177. DOI:10.1016/j.ygyno.2014.03.465 · 3.69 Impact Factor
  • Gynecologic Oncology 06/2014; 133:179. DOI:10.1016/j.ygyno.2014.03.471 · 3.69 Impact Factor
  • Gynecologic Oncology 06/2014; 133:117-118. DOI:10.1016/j.ygyno.2014.03.310 · 3.69 Impact Factor
  • Gynecologic Oncology 06/2014; 133:29-30. DOI:10.1016/j.ygyno.2014.03.093 · 3.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: T-lymphocyte infiltration in ovarian tumours has been linked to a favorable prognosis, hence, exploring the mechanism of T-cell recruitment in the tumor is warranted. We employed a differential expression analysis to identify genes over-expressed in early stage ovarian cancer samples that contained CD8 infiltrating T-lymphocytes. Among other genes, we discovered that TTF1, a regulator of ribosomal RNA gene expression, and SMARCE1, a factor associated with chromatin remodeling were overexpressed in first stage CD8+ ovarian tumours. TTF1 and SMARCE1 mRNA levels showed a strong correlation with the number of intra-tumoral CD8+ cells in ovarian tumours. Interestingly, forced overexpression of SMARCE1 in SKOV3 ovarian cancer cells resulted in secretion of IL8, MIP1b and RANTES chemokines in the supernatant and triggered chemotaxis of CD8+ lymphocytes in a cell culture assay. The potency of SMARCE1-mediated chemotaxis appeared comparable to that caused by the transfection of the CXCL9 gene, coding for a chemokine known to attract T-cells. Our analysis pinpoints TTF1 and SMARCE1 as genes potentially involved in cancer immunology. Since both TTF1 and SMARCE1 are involved in chromatin remodeling, our results imply an epigenetic regulatory mechanism for T-cell recruitment that invites deciphering.
    The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 05/2014; 53. DOI:10.1016/j.biocel.2014.05.031 · 4.24 Impact Factor
  • Clinical Cancer Research 05/2014; 19(19_Supplement):B68-B68. DOI:10.1158/1078-0432.OVCA13-B68 · 8.19 Impact Factor
  • Clinical Cancer Research 05/2014; 19(19_Supplement):IA27-IA27. DOI:10.1158/1078-0432.OVCA13-IA27 · 8.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We describe a new mechanism regulating the tumor endothelial barrier and T cell infiltration into tumors. We detected selective expression of the death mediator Fas ligand (FasL, also called CD95L) in the vasculature of human and mouse solid tumors but not in normal vasculature. In these tumors, FasL expression was associated with scarce CD8(+) infiltration and a predominance of FoxP3(+) T regulatory (Treg) cells. Tumor-derived vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), interleukin 10 (IL-10) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) cooperatively induced FasL expression in endothelial cells, which acquired the ability to kill effector CD8(+) T cells but not Treg cells because of higher levels of c-FLIP expression in Treg cells. In mice, genetic or pharmacologic suppression of FasL produced a substantial increase in the influx of tumor-rejecting CD8(+) over FoxP3(+) T cells. Pharmacologic inhibition of VEGF and PGE2 produced a marked increase in the influx of tumor-rejecting CD8(+) over FoxP3(+) T cells that was dependent on attenuation of FasL expression and led to CD8-dependent tumor growth suppression. Thus, tumor paracrine mechanisms establish a tumor endothelial death barrier, which has a critical role in establishing immune tolerance and determining the fate of tumors.
    Nature medicine 05/2014; 20(6). DOI:10.1038/nm.3541 · 28.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cancer immunotherapy has great promise, but is limited by diverse mechanisms used by tumors to prevent sustained antitumor immune responses. Tumors disrupt antigen presentation, T/NK-cell activation, and T/NK-cell homing through soluble and cell-surface mediators, the vasculature, and immunosuppressive cells such as myeloid-derived suppressor cells and regulatory T cells. However, many molecular mechanisms preventing the efficacy of antitumor immunity have been identified and can be disrupted by combination immunotherapy. Here, we examine immunosuppressive mechanisms exploited by tumors and provide insights into the therapies under development to overcome them, focusing on lymphocyte traffic. Cancer Discov; 4(5); 522-6. ©2014 AACR.
    Cancer Discovery 05/2014; 4(5):522-6. DOI:10.1158/2159-8290.CD-13-0985 · 15.93 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

12k Citations
1,475.37 Total Impact Points


  • 2013–2015
    • University of Lausanne
      • Ludwig Center for Cancer Research of the UNIL (LICR@UNIL)
      Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland
    • University Hospital of Lausanne
      Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland
  • 1999–2013
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • • Perelman School of Medicine
      • • Ovarian Cancer Research Center
      • • Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
      • • Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health
      • • Division of Gynecologic Oncology
      • • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
    • McGill University
      • Department of Surgery
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 1998–2013
    • William Penn University
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
    • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
      • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2012
    • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
      Seattle, Washington, United States
    • Fox Chase Cancer Center
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2003–2011
    • Treatment Research Institute, Philadelphia PA
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2009
    • University of Michigan
      • Department of Surgery
      Ann Arbor, MI, United States
  • 2008
    • Ohio University
      • Department of Biomedical Sciences
      Athens, OH, United States
  • 2000–2008
    • Gynecologic Oncology Group
      Buffalo, New York, United States
  • 2007
    • Johns Hopkins University
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
    • George Mason University
      페어팩스, Virginia, United States
  • 2006–2007
    • University of Helsinki
      Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
  • 2004
    • Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans
      New Orleans, Louisiana, United States