Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered lymphocytes for cancer therapy.
ABSTRACT: Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) usually combine the antigen binding site of a monoclonal antibody with the signal activating machinery of a T cell, freeing antigen recognition from MHC restriction and thus breaking one of the barriers to more widespread application of cellular therapy. Similar to treatment strategies employing monoclonal antibodies, T cells expressing CARs are highly targeted, but additionally offer the potential benefits of active trafficking to tumor sites, in vivo expansion and long-term persistence. Furthermore, gene transfer allows the introduction of countermeasures to tumor immune evasion and of safety mechanisms.The basic structure of so-called first and later generation CARs and their potential advantages over other immune therapy systems. How these molecules can be grafted into immune cells (including retroviral and non-retroviral transduction methods) and strategies to improve the in vivo persistence and function of immune cells expressing CARs. Examples of tumor-associated antigens that have been targeted in preclinical models and clinical experience with these modified cells. Safety issues surrounding CAR gene transfer into T cells and potential solutions to them.Because of recent advances in immunology, genetics and cell processing, CAR-modified T cells will likely play an increasing role in the cellular therapy of cancer, chronic infections and autoimmune disorders.
Project description:Neuroblastoma (NBL) is the most common extracranial pediatric solid tumor and has heterogeneous biology and behavior. Patients with high-risk disease have poor prognosis despite complex multimodal therapy; therefore, novel curative approaches are needed. Immunotherapy is a novel therapeutic approach that harnesses the inherent activity of the immune system to control and eliminate malignant cells. One form of immunotherapy uses chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) to target tumor-associated antigens. CARs are derived from the antigen-binding domain of a monoclonal antibody (MAb) coupled with the intracellular signaling portion of the T cell receptor. CARs can combine the specificity and effectiveness of MAbs with the active bio-distribution, direct cytotoxicity, and long-term persistence of T cells. NBL provides an attractive target for CAR immunotherapy as many of its tumor-associated antigens are not expressed at significant levels on normal tissues, thus decreasing potential treatment related toxicity. Two previous clinical trials utilizing L1-cell adhesion molecule (L1-CAM) and disialoganglioside (GD2) specific CARs (GD2-CAR) have demonstrated safety and anti-tumor efficacy in heavily pretreated relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma patients. Based on these promising results and on improved techniques that can further potentiate CAR therapies, two clinical trials are currently investigating the use of GD2-CARs in children with NBL. Several approaches may further enhance anti-tumor activity and persistence of CAR modified cells, and if these can be safely translated into the clinic, CAR-based immunotherapy could become a viable adjunct or potential alternative to conventional treatment options for patients with NBL.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is the commonest extra cranial solid cancer of childhood. Despite escalation of treatment regimens, a significant minority of patients die of their disease. Disialoganglioside (GD2) is consistently expressed at high-levels in neuroblastoma tumors, which have been targeted with some success using therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. GD2 is also expressed in a range of other cancer but with the exception of some peripheral nerves is largely absent from non-transformed tissues. Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) are artificial type I proteins which graft the specificity of a monoclonal antibody onto a T-cell. Clinical data with early CAR designs directed against GD2 have shown some promise in Neuroblastoma. Here, we describe a GD2-targeting CAR retroviral cassette, which has been optimized for CAR T-cell persistence, efficacy and safety.
Project description:Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) reactivations are associated with lower overall survival after transplantations. Adoptive transfer of HCMV-reactive expanded or selected T cells can be applied as a compassionate use, but requires that the human leukocyte antigen-matched donor provides memory cells against HCMV. To overcome this, we developed engineered T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) targeted against the HCMV glycoprotein B (gB) expressed upon viral reactivation. Single-chain variable fragments (scFvs) derived from a human high-affinity gB-specific neutralizing monoclonal antibody (SM5-1) were fused to CARs with 4-1BB (BBL) or CD28 (28S) costimulatory domains and subcloned into retroviral vectors. CD4+ and CD8+ T cells obtained from HCMV-seronegative adult blood or cord blood (CB) transduced with the vectors efficiently expressed the gB-CARs. The specificity and potency of gB-CAR-T cells were demonstrated and compared in vitro using the following: 293T cells expressing gB, and with mesenchymal stem cells infected with a HCMV TB40 strain expressing Gaussia luciferase (HCMV/GLuc). BBL-gB-CAR-T cells generated with adult or CB demonstrated significantly higher in vitro activation and cytotoxicity performance than 28-gB-CAR-T cells. Nod.Rag.Gamma (NRG) mice transplanted with human CB CD34+ cells with long-term human immune reconstitution were used to model HCMV/GLuc infection in vivo by optical imaging analyses. One week after administration, response to BBL-gB-CAR-T cell therapy was observed for 5/8 mice, defined by significant reduction of the bioluminescent signal in relation to untreated controls. Response to therapy was sporadically associated with CAR detection in spleen. Thus, exploring scFv derived from the high-affinity gB-antibody SM5-1 and the 4-1BB signaling domain for CAR design enabled an in vitro high on-target effect and cytotoxicity and encouraging results in vivo. Therefore, gB-CAR-T cells can be a future clinical option for treatment of HCMV reactivations, particularly when memory T cells from the donors are not available.
Project description:Although chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered T cell therapy has achieved encouraging clinical trial results for treating hematological cancers, further optimization can likely expand this therapeutic success to more patients and other cancer types. Most CAR constructs used in clinical trials incorporate single chain variable fragment (scFv) as the extracellular antigen recognition domain. The immunogenicity of nonhuman scFv could cause host rejection against CAR T cells and compromise their persistence and efficacy. The limited availability of scFvs and slow discovery of new monoclonal antibodies also limit the development of novel CAR constructs. Adnectin, a class of affinity molecules derived from the tenth type III domain of human fibronectin, can be an alternative to scFv as an antigen-binding moiety in the design of CAR molecules. We constructed adnectin-based CARs targeting epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) and found that compared to scFv-based CAR, T cells engineered with adnectin-based CARs exhibited equivalent cell-killing activity against target H292 lung cancer cells in vitro and had comparable antitumor efficacy in xenograft tumor-bearing mice in vivo. In addition, with optimal affinity tuning, adnectin-based CAR showed higher selectivity on target cells with high EGFR expression than on those with low expression. This new design of adnectin CARs can potentially facilitate the development of T cell immunotherapy for cancer and other diseases.
Project description:Cytotoxic T lymphocytes modified with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) for adoptive immunotherapy of hematologic malignancies have demonstrated activity in early phase clinical trials. While T cells bearing stably expressed CARs are efficacious and have potential long-term persistence, temporary expression of a CAR via RNA electroporation is also potentially efficacious in preclinical models. Temporary CAR expression using RNA presents a method of testing CARs clinically with additional safety where there may be concerns about possible chronic "on-target, off-tumor" toxic effects, as the degradation of RNA ensures complete removal of the CAR over time without relying on suicide induction systems. CD19-directed RNA CAR T cells were tested in vivo for efficacy and comparison to lentiviral vector (LV)-generated stable CAR T cells. We tested the hypothesis that multiple infusions of RNA CAR T cells preceded by lymphodepleting chemotherapy could mediate improved survival and sustained antitumor responses in a robust leukemia xenograft model. The saturation strategy using rationally designed multiple infusions of RNA CARs based on multiple model iterations approached the efficacy of a stable LV expression method. Two-color imaging revealed that relapse was a locoregional phenomenon in both the temporary and the stable expression models. In marked contrast to stably expressed CARs with retroviral or LV technology, the efficacy of RNA CARs appears independent of the costimulatory signaling endodomains likely because they more influence proliferation and persistence rather than short-term efficacy. The efficacy of the RNA CAR infusions may approach that of stably expressed CARs, offer theoretically safer initial clinical testing in addition to suicide systems, and allow for rapid and effective iterative preclinical modeling for the testing of new targets.
Project description:B cell maturation antigen (BCMA) has recently been identified as an important multiple myeloma (MM)-specific target for chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy. In CAR T cell therapy targeting CD19 for lymphoma, host immune anti-murine CAR responses limited the efficacy of repeat dosing and possibly long-term persistence. This clinically relevant concern can be addressed by generating a CAR incorporating a human single-chain variable fragment (scFv). We screened a human B cell-derived scFv phage display library and identified a panel of BCMA-specific clones from which human CARs were engineered. Despite a narrow range of affinity for BCMA, dramatic differences in CAR T cell expansion were observed between unique scFvs in a repeat antigen stimulation assay. These results were confirmed by screening in a MM xenograft model, where only the top preforming CARs from the repeat antigen stimulation assay eradicated disease and prolonged survival. The results of this screening identified a highly effective CAR T cell therapy with properties, including rapid in vivo expansion (>10,000-fold, day 6), eradication of large tumor burden, and durable protection to tumor re-challenge. We generated a bicistronic construct including a second-generation CAR and a truncated-epithelial growth factor receptor marker. CAR T cell vectors stemming from this work are under clinical investigation.
Project description:Adoptive T cell therapy (ACT) refers to the therapeutic use of T cells. T cells genetically engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) constitute the most clinically advanced form of ACT approved to date for the treatment of CD19-positive leukaemias and lymphomas. CARs are synthetic receptors that are able to confer antigen-binding and activating functions on T cells with the aim of therapeutically targeting cancer cells. Several factors are essential for CAR T cell therapy to be effective, such as recruitment, activation, expansion and persistence of bioengineered T cells at the tumour site. Despite the advances made in CAR T cell therapy, however, most tumour entities still escape immune detection and elimination. A number of strategies counteracting these problems will need to be addressed in order to render T cell therapy effective in more situations than currently possible. Non-haematological tumours are also the subject of active investigation, but ACT has so far shown only marginal success rates in these cases. New approaches are needed to enhance the ability of ACT to target solid tumours without increasing toxicity, by improving recognition, infiltration, and persistence within tumours, as well as an enhanced resistance to the suppressive tumour microenvironment.
Project description:Immunotherapy, particularly the adoptive cell transfer (ACT) of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), is a very promising therapy for metastatic melanoma. Some patients unable to receive TIL have been successfully treated with autologous peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), genetically modified to express human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I antigen-restricted, melanoma antigen-reactive T-cell receptors; however, substantial numbers of patients remain ineligible due to the lack of expression of the restricting HLA class I allele. We sought to overcome this limitation by designing a non-MHC-restricted, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeting the high molecular weight melanoma-associated antigen (HMW-MAA), which is highly expressed on more than 90% of human melanomas but has a restricted distribution in normal tissues. HMW-MAA-specific CARs containing an antigen recognition domain based on variations of the HMW-MAA-specific monoclonal antibody 225.28S and a T-cell activation domain based on combinations of CD28, 4-1BB, and CD3zeta activation motifs were constructed within a retroviral vector to allow stable gene transfer into cells and their progeny. Following optimization of the HMW-MAA-specific CAR for expression and function in human PBL, these gene-modified T cells secreted cytokines, were cytolytic, and proliferated in response to HMW-MAA-expressing cell lines. Furthermore, the receptor functioned in both CD4(+) and CD8(+) cells, was non-MHC restricted, and reacted against explanted human melanomas. To evaluate this HMW-MAA-specific CAR in patients with metastatic melanoma, we developed a clinical-grade retroviral packaging line. This may represent a novel means to treat the majority of patients with advanced melanoma, most notably those unable to receive current ACT therapies.
Project description:Adoptive cell therapy of malignant diseases with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T cells rapidly advanced from pre-clinical models to commercial approvals within 2 decades. CARs redirect patient's T cells towards cancer cells and activate the engineered cells for a cytolytic attack resulting in the destruction of the cognate target cell. CAR T cells have demonstrated their powerful capacities in inducing complete and lasting remissions of leukemia/lymphoma in an increasing number of trials worldwide. Since the early 90's, the design of CARs went through various steps of optimization until the very recent developments which include CARs with logic gating in the recognition of antigen patterns on target cells and TRUCKs with a target recognition induced delivery of immune modulating agents. Here we review the generations in CAR design, the impact of specific modifications, the strategies to improve the safety of CAR T cell therapy, and the challenges to adapt the CAR design for broader applications.