[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using lentiviral technology, we recently demonstrated that incorporation of CD27 costimulation into CARs greatly improves antitumor activity and T cell persistence. Still, virus-mediated gene transfer is expensive, laborious and enables long-term persistence, creating therapies which cannot be easily discontinued if toxic. To address these concerns, we utilized a non-integrating RNA platform to engineer human T cells to express FRα-specific, CD27 CARs and tested their capacity to eliminate human FRα+ cancer. Novel CARs comprised of human components were constructed, C4-27z and C4opt-27z, a codon-optimized variant created for efficient expression. Following RNA electroporation, C4-27z and C4opt-27z CAR expression is initially ubiquitous but progressively declines across T cell populations. In addition, C4-27z and C4opt-27z RNA CAR T cells secrete high levels of Th-1 cytokines and display strong cytolytic function against human FRα+ cancers in a time- and antigen-dependent manner. Further, C4-27z and C4opt-27z CAR T cells exhibit significant proliferation in vivo, facilitate the complete regression of fully disseminated human ovarian cancer xenografts in mice and reduce the progression of solid ovarian cancer. These results advocate for rapid progression of C4opt-27z RNA CAR to the clinic and establish a new paradigm for preclinical optimization and validation of RNA CAR candidates destined for clinical translation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) can redirect T cells against antigen-expressing tumors in an HLA-independent manner. To date, various CARs have been constructed using mouse single chain antibody variable fragments (scFvs) of high affinity that are immunogenic in humans and have the potential to mediate "on-target" toxicity. Here, we developed and evaluated a fully human CAR comprised of the human C4 folate receptor-alpha (αFR)-specific scFv coupled to intracellular T cell signaling domains. Human T cells transduced to express the C4 CAR specifically secreted proinflammatory cytokine and exerted cytolytic functions when cultured with αFR-expressing tumors in vitro. Adoptive transfer of C4 CAR T cells mediated the regression of large, established human ovarian cancer in a xenogeneic mouse model. Relative to a murine MOv19 scFv-based αFR CAR, C4 CAR T cells mediated comparable cytotoxic tumor activity in vitro and in vivo but had lower affinity for αFR protein and exhibited reduced recognition of normal cells expressing low levels of αFR. Thus, T cells expressing a fully human CAR of intermediate affinity can efficiently kill antigen-expressing tumors in vitro and in vivo and may overcome issues of transgene immunogenicity and "on-target off-tumor" toxicity that plague trials utilizing CARs containing mouse-derived, high affinity scFvs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Redirection of T lymphocytes against tumor antigens can induce dramatic regression of advanced stage malignancy. The use of bispecific antibodies (BsAbs) that bind both the T-cell receptor (TCR) and a target antigen is one promising approach to T-cell redirection. However, BsAbs indiscriminately bind all CD3+ T-cells and trigger TCR activation in the absence of parallel costimulatory signals required to overcome T-cell unresponsiveness or anergy.Methods
To address these limitations, a combination platform was designed wherein a unique BsAb referred to as frBsAb exclusively engages T-cells engineered to express a novel chimeric receptor comprised of extracellular folate receptor fused to intracellular TCR and CD28 costimulatory signaling domains in tandem; a BsAb-binding immune receptor (BsAb-IR). As a surrogate TCR, the BsAb-IR allows for concomitant TCR and costimulatory signaling exclusively in transduced T-cells upon engagement with specific frBsAbs, and can therefore redirect T-cells on command to desired antigen. Human primary T-cells were transduced with lentiviral vector and expanded for 14¿18 days. BsAb-IRs were harvested and armed with frBsAbs to test for redirected cytotoxicity against CD20 positive cancer cell lines.ResultsUsing frBsAbs specific for CD20 or HER2, the lytic activity of primary human T-cells expressing the BsAb-IR was specifically redirected against CD20+ leukemic cells or HER2+ epithelial cancer cells, respectively, while non-engineered T-cells were not activated. Notably, elimination of the CD28 costimulatory domain from the BsAb-IR construct significantly reduced frBsAb-redirected antitumor responses, confirming that frBsAbs are capable of delivering simultaneous TCR activation and costimulatory signals to BsAb-IR T-cells.Conclusion
In summary, our results establish the proof of concept that the combination of BsAbs with optimized gene-engineered T-cells provides the opportunity to specify and augment tumor antigen-specific T-cell activation and may improve upon the early success of conventional BsAbs in cancer immunotherapy.
Journal of Translational Medicine 12/2014; 12(1):347. DOI:10.1186/s12967-014-0347-2 · 3.93 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] 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.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ErbB2 protein is a member of the tyrosine kinase family of growth factor receptors that is overexpressed in cancers of the breast, ovary, stomach, kidney, colon, and lung, and therefore represents an attractive candidate antigen for targeted cancer immunotherapy. Cytotoxic T lymphocytes specific for various immunogenic ErbB2 peptides have been described, but they often exhibit both poor functional avidity and tumor reactivity. In order to generate potent CD8(+) T cells with specificity for the ErbB2(369-377) peptide, we performed one round of in vitro peptide stimulation of CD8(+) T cells isolated from an HLA-A2(+) patient who was previously vaccinated with autologous dendritic cells pulsed with HLA class I ErbB2 peptides. Using this approach, we enriched highly avid ErbB2-reactive T cells with strong ErbB2-specific, antitumor effector functions. We then stimulated these ErbB2-reactive T cells with ErbB2(+) HLA-A2(+) tumor cells in vitro and sorted tumor-activated ErbB2(369-377) peptide T cells, which allowed for the isolation of a novel T-cell receptor (TCR) with ErbB2(369-377) peptide specificity. Primary human CD8(+) T cells genetically modified to express this ErbB2-specific TCR specifically bound ErbB2(369-377) peptide containing HLA-A2 tetramers, and efficiently recognized target cells pulsed with low nanomolar concentrations of ErbB2(369-377) peptide as well as nonpulsed ErbB2(+) HLA-A2(+) tumor cell lines in vitro. In a novel xenograft model, ErbB2-redirected T cells also significantly delayed progression of ErbB2(+) HLA-A2(+) human tumor in vivo. Together, these results support the notion that redirection of normal T-cell specificity by TCR gene transfer can have potential applications in the adoptive immunotherapy of ErbB2-expressing malignancies.
Human Gene Therapy 07/2014; 25(8). DOI:10.1089/hum.2014.006 · 3.76 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Up-regulation of CD137 (4-1BB) on recently activated CD8+ T-cells has been used to identify rare viral or tumor antigen-specific T-cells from peripheral blood. Here, we evaluated the immunobiology of CD137 in human cancer and the utility of a CD137-positive separation methodology for the identification and enrichment of fresh tumor-reactive tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) or tumor-associated lymphocytes (TAL) from ascites for use in adoptive immunotherapy.
TILs from resected ovarian cancer or melanoma were measured for surface CD137expression directly or after overnight incubation in the presence of tumor cells and homeostatic cytokines. CD137pos TILs were sorted and evaluated for anti-tumor activity in vitro and in vivo.
Fresh ovarian TILs and TALs naturally expressed higher levels of CD137 than circulating T-cells. An HLA-dependent increase in CD137 expression was observed following incubation of fresh enzyme-digested tumor or ascites in IL-7 and IL-15 cytokines, but not IL-2. Enriched CD137pos TILs, but not PD-1pos or PD-1neg CD137neg cells, possessed autologous tumor-reactivity in vitro and in vivo. In melanoma studies, all MART-1-specific CD8+ TILs up-regulated CD137 expression after incubation with HLA-matched, MART-expressing cancer cells and antigen-specific effector function was restricted to the CD137pos subset in vitro. CD137pos TILs also mediated superior anti-tumor effects in vivo, compared to CD137neg TILs.
Our findings reveal a role for the TNFR-family member CD137 in the immunobiology of human cancer where it is preferentially expressed on tumor-reactive subset of TILs, thus rationalizing its agonistic engagement in vivo and its use in TIL selection for adoptive immunotherapy trials.
Clinical Cancer Research 09/2013; 20(1). DOI:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-0945 · 8.72 Impact Factor