Combinatorial antigen recognition with balanced signaling promotes selective tumor eradication by engineered T cells.
ABSTRACT: Current T-cell engineering approaches redirect patient T cells to tumors by transducing them with antigen-specific T-cell receptors (TCRs) or chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) that target a single antigen. However, few truly tumor-specific antigens have been identified, and healthy tissues that express the targeted antigen may undergo T cell-mediated damage. Here we present a strategy to render T cells specific for a tumor in the absence of a truly tumor-restricted antigen. T cells are transduced with both a CAR that provides suboptimal activation upon binding of one antigen and a chimeric costimulatory receptor (CCR) that recognizes a second antigen. Using the prostate tumor antigens PSMA and PSCA, we show that co-transduced T cells destroy tumors that express both antigens but do not affect tumors expressing either antigen alone. This 'tumor-sensing' strategy may help broaden the applicability and avoid some of the side effects of targeted T-cell therapies.
Project description:Advancing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered adoptive T cells for the treatment of solid cancers is a major focus in the field of immunotherapy, given impressive recent clinical responses in hematological malignancies. Prostate cancer may be amenable to T cell-based immunotherapy since several tumor antigens, including prostate stem-cell antigen (PSCA), are widely over-expressed in metastatic disease. While antigen selectivity of CARs for solid cancers is crucial, it is problematic due to the absence of truly restricted tumor antigen expression and potential safety concerns with "on-target off-tumor" activity. Here, we show that the intracellular co-stimulatory signaling domain can determine a CAR's sensitivity for tumor antigen expression. A 4-1BB intracellular co-stimulatory signaling domain in PSCA-CARs confers improved selectivity for higher tumor antigen density, reduced T cell exhaustion phenotype, and equivalent tumor killing ability compared to PSCA-CARs containing the CD28 co-stimulatory signaling domain. PSCA-CARs exhibit robust in vivo anti-tumor activity in patient-derived bone-metastatic prostate cancer xenograft models, and 4-1BB-containing CARs show superior T cell persistence and control of disease compared with CD28-containing CARs. Our study demonstrates the importance of co-stimulation in defining an optimal CAR T cell, and also highlights the significance of clinically relevant models in developing solid cancer CAR T cell therapies.
Project description:In recent years, immunotherapies, such as those involving chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, have become increasingly promising approaches to non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treatment. In this study, we explored the antitumor potential of prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA)-redirected CAR T and mucin 1 (MUC1)-redirected CAR T cells in tumor models of NSCLC. First, we generated patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mouse models of human NSCLC that maintained the antigenic profiles of primary tumors. Next, we demonstrated the expression of PSCA and MUC1 in NSCLC, followed by the generation and confirmation of the specificity and efficacy of PSCA- and MUC1-targeting CAR T cells against NSCLC cell lines in vitro. Finally, we demonstrated that PSCA-targeting CAR T cells could efficiently suppress NSCLC tumor growth in PDX mice and synergistically eliminate PSCA+MUC1+ tumors when combined with MUC1-targeting CAR T cells. Taken together, our studies demonstrate that PSCA and MUC1 are both promising CAR T cell targets in NSCLC and that the combinatorial targeting of these antigens could further enhance the antitumor efficacy of CAR T cells.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Adoptive transfer of T cells genetically engineered with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) has successfully been used to treat both chronic and acute lymphocytic leukemia as well as other hematological cancers. Experimental therapy with CAR-engineered T cells has also shown promising results on solid tumors. The prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA) is a protein expressed on the surface of prostate epithelial cells as well as in primary and metastatic prostate cancer cells and therefore a promising target for immunotherapy of prostate cancer. METHODS: We developed a third-generation CAR against PSCA including the CD28, OX-40 and CD3 ? signaling domains. T cells were transduced with a lentivirus encoding the PSCA-CAR and evaluated for cytokine production (paired Student's t-test), proliferation (paired Student's t-test), CD107a expression (paired Student's t-test) and target cell killing in vitro and tumor growth and survival in vivo (Log-rank test comparing Kaplan-Meier survival curves). RESULTS: PSCA-CAR T cells exhibit specific interferon (IFN)-? and interleukin (IL)-2 secretion and specific proliferation in response to PSCA-expressing target cells. Furthermore, the PSCA-CAR-engineered T cells efficiently kill PSCA-expressing tumor cells in vitro and systemic treatment with PSCA-CAR-engineered T cells significantly delays subcutaneous tumor growth and prolongs survival of mice. CONCLUSIONS: Our data confirms that PSCA-CAR T cells may be developed for treatment of prostate cancer.
Project description:The adoptive transfer of T cells redirected to tumor-associated antigens via transgenic expression of chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) has produced tumor responses, even in patients with refractory diseases. To target pancreatic cancer, we generated CAR T cells directed against prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA) and demonstrated specific tumor lysis. However, pancreatic tumors employ immune evasion strategies such as the production of inhibitory cytokines, which limit CAR T cell persistence and function. Thus, to protect our cells from the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-4, we generated an inverted cytokine receptor in which the IL-4 receptor exodomain was fused to the IL-7 receptor endodomain (4/7 ICR). Transgenic expression of this molecule in CAR-PSCA T cells should invert the inhibitory effects of tumor-derived IL-4 and instead promote T cell proliferation. We now demonstrate the suppressed activity of CAR T cells in tumor-milieu conditions and the ability of CAR/ICR T cells to thrive in an IL-4-rich microenvironment, resulting in enhanced antitumor activity. Importantly, CAR/ICR T cells remained both antigen and cytokine dependent. These findings support the benefit of combining the 4/7 ICR with CAR-PSCA to treat pancreatic cancer, a PSCA-expressing tumor characterized by a dense immunosuppressive environment rich in IL-4.
Project description:Pancreatic cancer remains largely an incurable disease necessitating the development of novel therapeutic approaches. Adoptive immunotherapy using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-transduced T cells represents an alternative treatment with curative potential. We present an overview of the engineering of novel CARs targeting prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA), implications for the development of immunotherapies, and potential strategies to circumvent on-target/off-tumor toxicities.
Project description:T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CAR-T cells) have shown impressive clinical efficacy in the treatment of B cell malignancies. However, the development of CAR-T cell therapies for solid tumors is hampered by the lack of truly tumor-specific antigens and poor control over T cell activity. Here we present an avidity-controlled CAR (AvidCAR) platform with inducible and logic control functions. The key is the combination of (i) an improved CAR design which enables controlled CAR dimerization and (ii) a significant reduction of antigen-binding affinities to introduce dependence on bivalent interaction, i.e. avidity. The potential and versatility of the AvidCAR platform is exemplified by designing ON-switch CARs, which can be regulated with a clinically applied drug, and AND-gate CARs specifically recognizing combinations of two antigens. Thus, we expect that AvidCARs will be a highly valuable platform for the development of controllable CAR therapies with improved tumor specificity.
Project description:Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells represent a novel targeted approach to overcome both quantitative and qualitative shortfalls of the host immune system relating to the detection and subsequent destruction of tumors. The identification of antigens expressed specifically on the surface of tumor cells is a critical first step in the ability to utilize CAR T cells for the treatment of cancer. The 5T4 is a tumor-associated antigen which is expressed on the cell surface of most solid tumors including ovarian cancer. Matched blood and tumor samples were collected from 12 patients with ovarian cancer; all tumors were positive for 5T4 expression by immunohistochemistry. Patient T cells were effectively transduced with 2 different anti-5T4 CAR constructs which differed in their affinity for the target antigen. Co-culture of CAR T cells with matched autologous tumor disaggregates resulted in antigen-specific secretion of IFN-gamma. Furthermore, assessment of the efficacy of anti-5T4 CAR T cells in a mouse model resulted in therapeutic benefit against established ovarian tumors. These results demonstrate proof of principle that 5T4 is an attractive target for immune intervention in ovarian cancer and that patient T cells engineered to express a 5T4-specific CAR can recognize and respond physiologically to autologous tumor cells.
Project description:Gamma delta T (??T) lymphocytes are primed for rapid function, including cytotoxicity toward cancer cells, and are a component of the immediate stress response. Following activation, they can function as professional antigen-presenting cells. Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) work by focusing T cell function on defined cell surface tumor antigens and provide essential costimulation for robust activation. Given the natural tropism of ??T cells for the tumor microenvironment, we hypothesized that their transduction with CARs might enhance cytotoxicity while retaining their ability to migrate to tumor and act as antigen-presenting cells to prolong the intratumoral immune response. Using a GD2-targeting CAR as a model system, we showed that ??T cells of both V?1 and V?2 subsets could be expanded and transduced to sufficient numbers for clinical studies. The CAR added to the cells' innate cytotoxicity by enhancing GD2-specific killing of GD2-expressing cancer cell lines. Migration toward tumor cells in vitro was not impaired by the presence of the CAR. Expanded CAR-transduced V?2 cells retained the ability to take up tumor antigens and cross presented the processed peptide to responder alpha beta T (??T) lymphocytes. ?? CAR-T cell products show promise for evaluation in clinical studies of solid tumors.
Project description:Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy has had limited efficacy for solid tumors, largely due to a lack of selectively and highly expressed surface antigens. To avoid reliance on a tumor's endogenous antigens, here we describe a method of tumor-selective delivery of surface antigens using an oncolytic virus to enable a generalizable CAR T cell therapy. Using CD19 as our proof of concept, we engineered a thymidine kinase-disrupted vaccinia virus to selectively deliver CD19 to malignant cells, and thus demonstrated potentiation of CD19 CAR T cell activity against two tumor types in vitro. In an immunocompetent model of B16 melanoma, this combination markedly delayed tumor growth and improved median survival compared with antigen-mismatched combinations. We also found that CD19 delivery could improve CAR T cell activity against tumor cells that express low levels of cognate antigen, suggesting a potential application in counteracting antigen-low escape. This approach highlights the potential of engineering tumors for effective adoptive cell therapy.
Project description:The present work demonstrates the use of small bivalent engineered antibody fragments, cys-diabodies, for biological modification of nanoscale particles such as quantum dots (Qdots) for detection of target antigens. Novel bioconjugated quantum dots known as immunoQdots (iQdots) were developed by thiol-specific oriented coupling of tumor specific cys-diabodies, at a position away from the antigen binding site to amino PEG CdSe/ZnS Qdots. Initially, amino PEG Qdot 655 were coupled with reduced anti-HER2 cys-diabody by amine-sulfhydryl-reactive linker [N-?-maleimidocaproyloxy] succinimide ester (EMCS) to produce anti-HER2 iQdot 655. Spectral characterization of the conjugate revealed that the spectrum was symmetrical and essentially identical to unconjugated Qdot. Specific receptor binding activity of anti-HER2 iQdot 655 was confirmed by flow cytometry on HER2 positive and negative cells. Immunofluorescence results showed homogeneous surface labeling of the cell membrane with Qdot 655 conjugate. In addition, cys-diabodies specific for HER2, as well as prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA), were conjugated successfully with amino PEG Qdot 800. All of these iQdots retain the photoluminescence properties of the unconjugated Qdot 800 as well as the antigen binding specificity of the cys-diabody as demonstrated by flow cytometry. Simultaneous detection of two tumor antigens on LNCaP/PSCA prostate cancer cells (which express PSCA and HER2) in culture was possible using two iQdots, anti-HER2 iQdot 655 and anti-PSCA iQdot 800. Thus, these iQdots are potentially useful as optical probes for sensitive, multiplexed detection of surface markers on tumor cells. The present thiol-specific conjugation method demonstrates a general approach for site-specific oriented coupling of cys-diabodies to a wide variety of nanoparticles without disturbing the antigen binding site and maintaining small size compared to intact antibody.