Immunotherapy in Cancer: A Combat between Tumors and the Immune System; You Win Some, You Lose Some.
ABSTRACT: Cancer immunotherapy has emerged as a treatment modality, mainly as the result of discoveries in the immune response regulation, including mechanisms that turn off immune responses. Immunogenic cutaneous melanoma is a canonical model for therapeutic immunotherapy studies. "Passive" immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) has outpaced "active" immunotherapy with anti-tumor vaccines, and mAbs that antagonize the off responses have been recently introduced in clinical practice. Despite these recent successes, many unresolved practical and theoretical questions remain. Notably unknown are the identity of the lymphocytes that eliminate tumor cells, which white cells enter into tumors, through which endothelium, in what order, and how they perform their task. The parameters of size and location that could be used to determine in which tumors the immune response may be sufficient to eradicate the tumor are yet unknown. Immunotherapy has been so far more efficient to treat solid and hematologic tumors located outside the central nervous system, than primary brain tumors and brain metastases. In contrast to recent advances with mAbs, anti-tumor vaccine development has been lagging behind. The multiplicity of antigens that must be targeted to achieve significant clinical response is partially responsible for this lag, especially in melanoma, one of the most mutated tumors. Further hampering vaccination results is the fact that tumor elimination by the immune system is the result of a race between tumors with different growth rates and the relatively slow development of the adaptive immune response. The enhancement of the native arm of the immune response or the administration of targeted chemotherapy to slow tumor development, are approaches that should be studied. Finally, criteria used to analyze patient response to immunotherapeutic treatments must be perfected, and the patient populations that could benefit the most from this approach must be better defined.
Project description:Tumor escape from immune-mediated destruction has been associated with immunosuppressive mechanisms that inhibit T-cell activation. A promising strategy for cancer immunotherapy is to disrupt key pathways regulating immune tolerance, such as program death-1 (PD-1/PD-L1) pathway in the tumor environment. However, the determinants of response to anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) treatment remain incompletely understood. In murine models, PD-1 blockade alone fails to induce effective immune responses to poorly immunogenic tumors, but is successful when combined with additional interventions, such as cancer vaccines. Novel cancer vaccines combined with antibody may offer promising control of cancer development and progression. In this investigation, we generated a novel tumor cell vaccine simultaneously expressing anti-PD-1 mAbs and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in CT26 colon cancer and B16-F10 melanoma. The antitumor effect of the vaccine was verified by therapeutic and adoptive animal experiments <i>in vivo</i>. The antitumor mechanism was analyzed using Flow cytometry, Elispot and <i>in vivo</i> intervention approaches. The results showed that tumor cell vaccine secreting PD-1 neutralizing antibodies and GM-CSF induced remarkable antitumor immune effects and prolonged the survival of tumor-bearing animals compared with animals treated with either PD-1 mAbs or GM-CSF alone. Antitumor effects and prolonged survival correlated with strong antigen-specific T-cell responses by analyzing CD11c<sup>+</sup>CD86<sup>+</sup> DC, CD11b<sup>+</sup>F4/80<sup>+</sup> M? cells, increased ratio of Teff/Treg in the tumor microenvironment, and higher secretion levels of Th1 proinflammatory cytokines in serum. Furthermore, the results of ELISPOT and <i>in vivo</i> blocking strategies further confirmed that the antitumor immune response is acquired by CD4 and CD8 T immune responses, primarily dependent on CD4 Th1 immune response, not NK innate immune response. The combination of PD-1 blockade with GM-CSF secretion potency creates a novel tumor cell vaccine immunotherapy, affording significantly improved antitumor responses by releasing the state of immunosuppressive microenvironment and augmenting the tumor-reactive T-cell responses.
Project description:PURPOSE:CTLA-4 was the first inhibitory immune checkpoint to be identified. Two mAbs, ipilimumab (IgG1) and tremelimumab (IgG2), which block the function of CTLA-4, have demonstrated durable clinical activity in a subset of patients with advanced solid malignancies by augmenting effector T-cell-mediated immune responses. Studies in mice suggest that anti-CTLA-4 mAbs may also selectively deplete intratumoral FOXP3+ regulatory T cells via an Fc-dependent mechanism. However, it is unclear whether the depletion of FOXP3+ cells occurs in patients with cancer treated with anti-CTLA-4 therapies. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:Quantitative IHC was used to evaluate the densities of intratumoral CD4+, CD8+, and FOXP3+ cells in stage-matched melanoma (n = 19), prostate cancer (n = 17), and bladder cancer (n = 9) samples treated with ipilimumab and in paired melanoma tumors (n = 18) treated with tremelimumab. These findings were corroborated with multiparametric mass cytometry analysis of tumor-infiltrating cells from paired fresh melanoma tumors (n = 5) treated with ipilimumab. RESULTS:Both ipilimumab and tremelimumab increase infiltration of intratumoral CD4+ and CD8+ cells without significantly changing or depleting FOXP3+ cells within the tumor microenvironment. CONCLUSIONS:Anti-CTLA-4 immunotherapy does not deplete FOXP3+ cells in human tumors, which suggests that their efficacy could be enhanced by modifying the Fc portions of the mAbs to enhance Fc-mediated depletion of intratumoral regulatory T cells.See related commentary by Quezada and Peggs, p. 1130.
Project description:PURPOSE:Tumor genomic features have been of particular interest because of their potential impact on the tumor immune microenvironment and response to immunotherapy. Due to the substantial heterogeneity, an integrative approach incorporating diverse molecular features is needed to characterize immunologic features underlying primary resistance to immunotherapy and for the establishment of novel predictive biomarkers. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:We developed a pan-cancer deep machine learning model integrating tumor mutation burden, microsatellite instability, and somatic copy-number alterations to classify tumors of different types into different genomic clusters, and assessed the immune microenvironment in each genomic cluster and the association of each genomic cluster with response to immunotherapy. RESULTS:Our model grouped 8,646 tumors of 29 cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlas into four genomic clusters. Analysis of RNA-sequencing data revealed distinct immune microenvironment in tumors of each genomic class. Furthermore, applying this model to tumors from two melanoma immunotherapy clinical cohorts demonstrated that patients with melanoma of different genomic classes achieved different benefit from immunotherapy. Interestingly, tumors in cluster 4 demonstrated a cold immune microenvironment and lack of benefit from immunotherapy despite high microsatellite instability burden. CONCLUSIONS:Our study provides a proof for principle that deep learning modeling may have the potential to discover intrinsic statistical cross-modality correlations of multifactorial input data to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying primary resistance to immunotherapy, which likely involves multiple factors from both the tumor and host at different molecular levels.
Project description:In recent years, new strategies for treating melanoma have been introduced, improving the outlook for this challenging disease. One of the most important advances has been the development of immunotherapy. The better understanding of the role of the immunological system in tumor control has paved the way for strategies to enhance the immune response against cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against the immune checkpoints cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) and programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and its ligand (PD-L1) have demonstrated high activity in melanoma and other tumors. Ipilimumab, an anti CTLA-4 antibody, was the first drug of this class that was approved. Although the response rate with ipilimumab is low (less than 20% of patients have objective responses), 20% of patients have long survival, with similar results in the first and second line settings. Nivolumab and pembrolizumab, both anti PD-1 inhibitors, have been approved for the treatment of melanoma, with response rates of 40% and a demonstrated survival advantage in phase III trials. This has marked a new era in the treatment of metastatic melanoma and much research is now ongoing with other drugs targeting checkpoint inhibitors. In addition, the agonist of activating molecules on T cells and their combinations are being investigated. Herein we review the clinical development of checkpoint inhibitors and their approval for treatment of metastatic melanoma.
Project description:Cancer vaccines have now demonstrated clinical efficacy, but immune modulatory mechanisms that prevent autoimmunity limit their effectiveness. Systemic administration of mAbs targeting the immune modulatory receptors CTLA-4 and glucocorticoid-induced TNFR-related protein (GITR) on Treg and effector T cells augments anti-tumor immunity both experimentally and clinically, but can induce life-threatening autoimmunity. We hypothesized that local delivery of anti-CTLA-4 and anti-GITR mAbs to the sites where T cells and tumor antigen-loaded DC vaccines interact would enhance the induction of anti-tumor immunity while avoiding autoimmunity. To achieve this goal, DCs transfected with mRNA encoding the H and L chains of anti-mouse CTLA-4 and GITR mAbs were co-administered with tumor antigen mRNA-transfected DCs. We observed enhanced induction of anti-tumor immunity and significantly improved survival in melanoma-bearing mice, without signs of autoimmunity. Using in vitro assays with human DCs, we demonstrated that DCs transfected with mRNA encoding a humanized anti-CTLA-4 mAb and mRNA encoding a soluble human GITR-L fusion protein enhance the induction of anti-tumor CTLs in response to DCs transfected with mRNAs encoding either melanoma or breast cancer antigens. Based on these results, this approach of using local delivery of immune modulators to enhance vaccine-induced immunity is currently being evaluated in a phase I clinical cancer immunotherapy trial.
Project description:Tumor antigen-targeting monoclonal antibodies (TA-targeting mAbs) are used as therapeutics in many malignancies and their capacity to mobilize the host immunity puts them at the forefront of anti-cancer immunotherapies. Both innate and adaptive immune cells have been associated with the therapeutic activity of such antibodies, but tumor escape from mAb-induced tumor immune surveillance remains one of the main clinical issues. In this preclinical study, we grafted immunocompetent and immunocompromised mice with the B16F10 mouse melanoma cell line and treated them with the TA99 TA-targeting mAb to analyze the immune mechanisms associated with the tumor response and resistance to TA99 monotherapy. In immunocompetent mice TA99 treatment strongly increased the fraction of CD8 and CD4 effector T cells in the tumor compared with isotype control, highlighting the specific immune modulation of the tumor microenvironment by TA99. However, in most mice, TA99 immunotherapy could not prevent immune effector exhaustion and the recruitment of regulatory CD4 T cells and consequently tumor escape from immune surveillance. Remarkably, anti-PD-1 treatment at the time of tumor emergence restored the Th1 effector functions of CD4 and CD8 T cells as well as of natural killer and ??T cells, which translated into a significant slow-down of tumor progression and extended survival. Our findings provide the first evidence that PD-1 blockade at the time of tumor emergence can efficiently boost the host anti-tumor immune response initiated several weeks before by the TA-targeting mAb. These results are promising for the design of combined therapies to sensitize non-responder or resistant patients.
Project description:Metastatic melanoma is a significant clinical problem with a 5-year survival rate of only 15-20%. Recent approval of new immunotherapies and targeted inhibitors have provided much needed options for these patients, in some cases promoting dramatic disease regressions. In particular, antibody-based therapies that block the PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitory pathway have achieved an increased overall response rate in metastatic melanoma, yet durable response rates are reported only around 15%. To improve the overall and durable response rates for advanced-stage melanoma, combined targeted and immune-based therapies are under investigation. Here, we investigated how the natural products called schweinfurthins, which have selective anti-proliferative activity against many cancer types, impact anti-(?)PD-1-mediated immunotherapy of murine melanomas. Two different compounds efficiently reduced the growth of human and murine melanoma cells <i>in vitro</i> and induced plasma membrane surface localization of the ER-resident protein calreticulin in B16.F10 melanoma cells, an indicator of immunogenic cell death. In addition, both compounds improved ?PD-1-mediated immunotherapy of established tumors in immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice either by delaying tumor progression or resulting in complete tumor regression. Improved immunotherapy was accomplished following only a 5-day course of schweinfurthin, which was associated with initial tumor regression even in the absence of ?PD-1. Schweinfurthin-induced tumor regression required an intact immune system as tumors were unaffected in NOD <i>scid</i> gamma (NSG) mice. These results indicate that schweinfurthins improve ?PD-1 therapy, leading to enhanced and durable anti-tumor immunity and support the translation of this novel approach to further improve response rates for metastatic melanoma.
Project description:Immunotherapy for cancer is making impressive strides at improving survival of a subset of cancer patients. To increase the breadth of patients that benefit from immunotherapy, new strategies that combat the immunosuppressive microenvironment of tumors are needed. Phosphatidylserine (PS) signaling is exploited by tumors to enhance tumor immune evasion and thus strategies to inhibit PS-mediated immune suppression have potential to increase the efficacy of immunotherapy. PS is a membrane lipid that flips to the outer surface of the cell membrane during apoptosis and/or cell stress. Externalized PS can drive efferocytosis or engage PS receptors (PSRs) to promote local immune suppression. In the tumor microenvironment (TME) PS-mediated immune suppression is often termed apoptotic mimicry. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting PS or PSRs have been developed and are in preclinical and clinical testing. The TIM (T-cell/transmembrane, immunoglobulin, and mucin) and TAM (Tyro3, AXL, and MerTK) family of receptors are PSRs that have been shown to drive PS-mediated immune suppression in tumors. This review will highlight the development of mAbs targeting PS, TIM-3 and the TAM receptors. Video Abstract.
Project description:TGF-?1, ?2 and ?3 bind a common receptor to exert vastly diverse effects in cancer, supporting either tumor progression by favoring metastases and inhibiting anti-tumor immunity, or tumor suppression by inhibiting malignant cell proliferation. Global TGF-? inhibition thus bears the risk of undesired tumor-promoting effects. We show that selective blockade of TGF-?1 production by Tregs with antibodies against GARP:TGF-?1 complexes induces regressions of mouse tumors otherwise resistant to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. Effects of combined GARP:TGF-?1/PD-1 blockade are immune-mediated, do not require Fc?R-dependent functions and increase effector functions of anti-tumor CD8+ T cells without augmenting immune cell infiltration or depleting Tregs within tumors. We find GARP-expressing Tregs and evidence that they produce TGF-?1 in one third of human melanoma metastases. Our results suggest that anti-GARP:TGF-?1 mAbs, by selectively blocking a single TGF-? isoform emanating from a restricted cellular source exerting tumor-promoting activity, may overcome resistance to PD-1/PD-L1 blockade in patients with cancer.
Project description:Although immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy has revolutionized cancer treatment, many patients do not respond or develop resistance to ICB. N6 -methylation of adenosine (m6A) in RNA regulates many pathophysiological processes. Here, we show that deletion of the m6A demethylase Alkbh5 sensitized tumors to cancer immunotherapy. Alkbh5 has effects on m6A density and splicing events in tumors during ICB. Alkbh5 modulates Mct4/Slc16a3 expression and lactate content of the tumor microenvironment and the composition of tumor-infiltrating Treg and myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Importantly, a small-molecule Alkbh5 inhibitor enhanced the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. Notably, the ALKBH5 gene mutation and expression status of melanoma patients correlate with their response to immunotherapy. Our results suggest that m6A demethylases in tumor cells contribute to the efficacy of immunotherapy and identify ALKBH5 as a potential therapeutic target to enhance immunotherapy outcome in melanoma, colorectal, and potentially other cancers.