A phase I clinical trial of adoptive T cell therapy using IL-12 secreting MUC-16(ecto) directed chimeric antigen receptors for recurrent ovarian cancer.
ABSTRACT: Recurrent platinum-resistant ovarian cancer has no curative options, necessitating the development of novel treatments, including immunotherapy.Patient-derived T cells can be genetically modified to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) specific to tumor-associated antigens in an HLA-independent manner, with promising preclinical results. MUC16(ecto) is highly expressed on most epithelial ovarian carcinomas but at low levels on normal tissues, offering an excellent immunotherapeutic target for this cancer. CAR T cells further modified to secrete IL-12 show enhanced cytotoxicity, persistence, and modulation of the tumor microenvironment.We propose a dose escalation phase I clinical trial for patients with recurrent MUC-16(ecto+) ovarian cancer to test the safety of intravenous and intraperitoneal administration and the preliminary efficacy of autologous IL-12 secreting, MUC-16(ecto) CAR T cells containing a safety elimination gene.This trial targets MUC-16(ecto), a novel and promising tumor-associated antigen. This will be the first time CAR T cells are injected intraperitoneally directly into the site of the tumor within the abdomen in humans. Furthermore, the ability of genetically modified cells to secrete IL-12 will potentially enhance CAR T cell persistence and modulate the tumor microenvironment. For safety purposes, an elimination gene has been incorporated into the CAR T cells to mitigate any on-target, off-tumor or other unforeseen toxicity.
Project description:A novel approach for the treatment of ovarian cancer includes immunotherapy with genetically engineered T cells targeted to ovarian cancer cell antigens. Using retroviral transduction, T cells can be created that express an artificial T cell receptor (TCR) termed a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). We have generated a CAR, 4H11-28z, specific to MUC-16ecto antigen, which is the over-expressed on a majority of ovarian tumor cells and is the retained portion of MUC-16 after cleavage of CA-125. We previously demonstrated that T cells modified to express the 4H11-28z CAR eradicate orthotopic human ovarian cancer xenografts in SCID-Beige mice. However, despite the ability of CAR T cells to localize to tumors, their activation in the clinical setting can be inhibited by the tumor microenvironment, as is commonly seen for endogenous antitumor immune response. To potentially overcome this limitation, we have recently developed a construct that co-expresses both MUC16ecto CAR and IL-12 (4H11-28z/IL-12). In vitro, 4H11-28z/IL-12 CAR T cells show enhanced proliferation and robust IFN? secretion compared to 4H11-28z CAR T cells. In SCID-Beige mice with human ovarian cancer xenografts, IL-12 secreting CAR T cells exhibit enhanced antitumor efficacy as determined by increased survival, prolonged persistence of T cells, and higher systemic IFN?. Furthermore, in anticipation of translating these results into a phase I clinical trial which will be the first to study IL-12 secreting CAR T cells in ovarian cancer, an elimination gene has been included to allow for deletion of CAR T cells in the context of unforeseen or off-tumor on-target toxicity.
Project description:Most patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer will ultimately die from their disease. For this reason, novel approaches to the treatment of this malignancy are needed. Adoptive transfer of a patient's own T cells, genetically modified ex vivo through the introduction of a gene encoding a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeted to a tumor-associated antigen, is a novel approach to the treatment of ovarian cancer.We have generated several CARs targeted to the retained extracellular domain of MUC16, termed MUC-CD, an antigen expressed on most ovarian carcinomas. We investigate the in vitro biology of human T cells retrovirally transduced to express these CARs by coculture assays on artificial antigen-presenting cells as well as by cytotoxicity and cytokine release assays using the human MUC-CD(+) ovarian tumor cell lines and primary patient tumor cells. Further, we assess the in vivo antitumor efficacy of MUC-CD-targeted T cells in SCID-Beige mice bearing peritoneal human MUC-CD(+) tumor cell lines.CAR-modified, MUC-CD-targeted T cells exhibited efficient MUC-CD-specific cytolytic activity against both human ovarian cell and primary ovarian carcinoma cells in vitro. Furthermore, expanded MUC-CD-targeted T cells infused through either i.p. injection or i.v. infusion into SCID-Beige mice bearing orthotopic human MUC-CD(+) ovarian carcinoma tumors either delayed progression or fully eradicated disease.These promising preclinical studies justify further investigation of MUC-CD-targeted T cells as a potential therapeutic approach for patients with high-risk MUC16(+) ovarian carcinomas.
Project description:Adoptive cell therapy with tumor-targeted T cells is a promising approach to cancer therapy. Enhanced clinical outcome using this approach requires conditioning regimens with total body irradiation, lymphodepleting chemotherapy, and/or additional cytokine support. However, the need for prior conditioning precludes optimal application of this approach to a significant number of cancer patients intolerant to these regimens. Herein, we present preclinical studies demonstrating that treatment with CD19-specific, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified T cells that are further modified to constitutively secrete IL-12 are able to safely eradicate established disease in the absence of prior conditioning. We demonstrate in a novel syngeneic tumor model that tumor elimination requires both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell subsets, autocrine IL-12 stimulation, and subsequent IFN? secretion by the CAR(+) T cells. Importantly, IL-12-secreting, tumor-targeted T cells acquire intrinsic resistance to T regulatory cell-mediated inhibition. Based on these preclinical data, we anticipate that adoptive therapy using CAR-targeted T cells modified to secrete IL-12 will obviate or reduce the need for potentially hazardous conditioning regimens to achieve optimal antitumor responses in cancer patients.
Project description:Genetically modified T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) so far have mostly failed in the treatment of solid tumors owing to a number of limitations, including an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and insufficient CAR T cell activation and persistence. Next-generation approaches using CAR T cells that secrete transgenic immunomodulatory cytokines upon CAR signaling, known as TRUCKs ("T cells redirected for universal cytokine-mediated killing"), are currently being explored. As TRUCKs were engineered by the transduction of T cells with two separate vectors, we developed a lentiviral modular "all-in-one" vector system that combines constitutive CAR expression and inducible nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT)-driven transgene expression for more efficient production of TRUCKs. Activation of the GD2-specific CAR via GD2+ target cells induced NFAT promoter-driven cytokine release in primary human T cells, and indicated a tight linkage of CAR-specific activation and transgene expression that was further improved by a modified NFATsyn promoter. As proof-of-concept, we showed that T cells containing the "all-in-one" vector system secrete the immunomodulatory cytokines interleukin (IL)12 or IL18 upon co-cultivation with primary human GD2+ tumor cells, resulting in enhanced effector cell properties and increased monocyte recruitment. This highlights the potential of our system to simplify application of TRUCK-modified T cells in solid tumor therapy.
Project description:The efficacy of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy against poorly responding tumors can be enhanced by administering the cells in combination with immune checkpoint blockade inhibitors. Alternatively, the CAR construct has been engineered to coexpress factors that boost CAR-T cell function in the tumor microenvironment. We modified CAR-T cells to secrete PD-1-blocking single-chain variable fragments (scFv). These scFv-secreting CAR-T cells acted in both a paracrine and autocrine manner to improve the anti-tumor activity of CAR-T cells and bystander tumor-specific T cells in clinically relevant syngeneic and xenogeneic mouse models of PD-L1+ hematologic and solid tumors. The efficacy was similar to or better than that achieved by combination therapy with CAR-T cells and a checkpoint inhibitor. This approach may improve safety, as the secreted scFvs remained localized to the tumor, protecting CAR-T cells from PD-1 inhibition, which could potentially avoid toxicities associated with systemic checkpoint inhibition.
Project description:Disease relapse or progression is a major cause of death following umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation (UCBT) in patients with high-risk, relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Adoptive transfer of donor-derived T cells modified to express a tumor-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) may eradicate persistent disease after transplantation. Such therapy has not been available to UCBT recipients, however, due to the low numbers of available UCB T cells and the limited capacity for ex vivo expansion of cytolytic cells. We have developed a novel strategy to expand UCB T cells to clinically relevant numbers in the context of exogenous cytokines. UCB-derived T cells cultured with interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-15 generated >150-fold expansion with a unique central memory/effector phenotype. Moreover, UCB T cells were modified to both express the CD19-specific CAR, 1928z, and secrete IL-12. 1928z/IL-12 UCB T cells retained a central memory-effector phenotype and had increased antitumor efficacy in vitro. Furthermore, adoptive transfer of 1928z/IL-12 UCB T cells resulted in significantly enhanced survival of CD19(+) tumor-bearing SCID-Beige mice. Clinical translation of CAR-modified UCB T cells could augment the graft-versus-leukemia effect after UCBT and thus further improve disease-free survival of transplant patients with B-cell ALL.
Project description:Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy targeting solid tumors has stagnated as a result of tumor heterogeneity, immunosuppressive microenvironments, and inadequate intratumoral T cell trafficking and persistence. Early (≤3 days) intratumoral presentation of CAR T cells post-treatment is a superior predictor of survival than peripheral persistence. Therefore, we have co-opted IL-8 release from tumors to enhance intratumoral T-cell trafficking through a CAR design for maximal antitumor activity in solid tumors. Here, we demonstrate that IL-8 receptor, CXCR1 or CXCR2, modified CARs markedly enhance migration and persistence of T cells in the tumor, which induce complete tumor regression and long-lasting immunologic memory in pre-clinical models of aggressive tumors such as glioblastoma, ovarian and pancreatic cancer.
Project description:Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy has shown limited efficacy for the management of solid tumor malignancies. In ovarian cancer, this is in part due to an immunosuppressive cytokine and cellular tumor microenvironment which suppresses adoptively transferred T cells. We engineered an armored CAR T cell capable of constitutive secretion of IL-12, and delineate the mechanisms via which these CAR T cells overcome a hostile tumor microenvironment. In this report, we demonstrate enhanced proliferation, decreased apoptosis and increased cytotoxicity in the presence of immunosuppressive ascites. In vivo, we show enhanced expansion and CAR T cell antitumor efficacy, culminating in improvement in survival in a syngeneic model of ovarian peritoneal carcinomatosis. Armored CAR T cells mediated depletion of tumor associated macrophages and resisted endogenous PD-L1-induced inhibition. These findings highlight the role of the inhibitory microenvironment and how CAR T cells can be further engineered to maintain efficacy.
Project description:Despite the unprecedented clinical success of chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) T-cells against haematological malignancy, solid tumors impose a far greater challenge to success. Largely, this stems from an inadequate capacity of CAR T-cells that can traffic and maintain function within a hostile microenvironment. To enhance tumor-directed T-cell trafficking, we have engineered CAR T-cells to acquire heightened responsiveness to interleukin (IL)-8. Circulating IL-8 levels correlate with disease burden and prognosis in multiple solid tumors in which it exerts diverse pathological functions including angiogenesis, support of cancer stem cell survival, and recruitment of immunosuppressive myeloid cells. To harness tumor-derived IL-8 for therapeutic benefit, we have co-expressed either of its cognate receptors (CXCR1 or CXCR2) in CAR T-cells that target the tumor-associated αvβ6 integrin. We demonstrate here that CXCR2-expressing CAR T-cells migrate more efficiently towards IL-8 and towards tumor conditioned media that contains this cytokine. As a result, these CAR T-cells elicit superior anti-tumor activity against established αvβ6-expressing ovarian or pancreatic tumor xenografts, with a more favorable toxicity profile. These data support the further engineering of CAR T-cells to acquire responsiveness to cancer-derived chemokines in order to improve their therapeutic activity against solid tumors.
Project description:Incorporation of inverted cytokine receptor (ICR) such as interleukin (IL)-4 vs. IL-7 (4/7) ICR is one strategy to improve the antitumor activities of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T (CAR-T) cells facing immunosuppressive cytokines. Here we report a novel interleukin (IL)-4 vs. IL-21 ICR (4/21 ICR) that enhanced CAR-T cell potency in IL-4+ tumor milieu via a different working-mechanism from 4/7 ICR. Upon IL-4 stimulation, 4/21 ICR activated the STAT3 pathway and promoted Th17-like polarization and tumor-targeted cytotoxicity in CAR-T cells in vitro. Furthermore, 4/21 ICR-CAR T cells persisted and eradicated established IL-4+ tumors in vivo. Thus, 4/21 ICR is a promising clinical CAR-T cell therapeutics for solid tumors rich in IL-4.