Tebentafusp: T Cell Redirection for the Treatment of Metastatic Uveal Melanoma.
ABSTRACT: Metastatic disease from uveal melanoma occurs in almost 50% of patients suffering from this ocular tumour, with median survival from development of symptoms being around 1 year. In contrast to cutaneous melanoma, kinase inhibitors and immune checkpoint inhibitors are usually ineffective in patients with metastatic uveal melanoma. Tebentafusp is a novel form of immunotherapy based on the immune-mobilising monoclonal T cell receptor against cancer (ImmTAC) platform, which comprises a soluble T cell receptor that is fused to an anti-CD3 single-chain variable fragment. The T cell receptor domain of tebentafusp targets cells present a human leukocyte antigen-A*02:01 complexed with a peptide derived from the melanoma-associated antigen gp100, which is expressed strongly by melanoma cells, weakly by normal melanocytes and minimally by other tissues. The anti-CD3 domain recruits CD3+ T cells (and, indirectly, other immune cells), redirecting these to the melanoma cells. The most common adverse events with tebentafusp are manageable and usually transient. Early survival data in patients with metastatic uveal melanoma are promising when considered alongside historical data. Based on these encouraging results, a randomised study comparing tebentafusp to investigator's choice of therapy in metastatic uveal melanoma is ongoing.
Project description:Robust preclinical testing is essential to predict clinical safety and efficacy and provide data to determine safe dose for first-in-man studies. There are a growing number of examples where the preclinical development of drugs failed to adequately predict clinical adverse events in part due to their assessment with inappropriate preclinical models. Preclinical investigations of T cell receptor (TCR)-based immunotherapies prove particularly challenging as these biologics are human-specific and thus the conventional testing in animal models is inadequate. As these molecules harness the full force of the immune system, and demonstrate tremendous potency, we set out to design a preclinical package that would ensure adequate evaluation of these therapeutics. Immune Mobilising Monoclonal TCR Against Cancer (ImmTAC) molecules are bi-specific biologics formed of an affinity-enhanced TCR fused to an anti-CD3 effector function. ImmTAC molecules are designed to activate human T lymphocytes and target peptides within the context of a human leukocyte antigen (HLA), thus require an intact human immune system and peptidome for suitable preclinical screening. Here we draw upon the preclinical testing of four ImmTAC molecules, including IMCgp100, the first ImmTAC molecule to reach the clinic, to present our comprehensive, informative and robust approach to in vitro preclinical efficacy and safety screening. This package comprises a broad range of cellular and molecular assays using human tissues and cultured cells to test efficacy, safety and specificity, and hence predict human responses in clinical trials. We propose that this entirely in vitro package offers a potential model to be applied to screening other TCR-based biologics.
Project description:The success of immune system-based cancer therapies depends on a broad immune response engaging a range of effector cells and mechanisms. Immune mobilizing monoclonal T cell receptors (TCRs) against cancer (ImmTAC™ molecules: fusion proteins consisting of a soluble, affinity enhanced TCR and an anti-CD3 scFv antibody) were previously shown to redirect CD8+ and CD4+ T cells against tumours. Here we present evidence that IMCgp100 (ImmTAC recognizing a peptide derived from the melanoma-specific protein, gp100, presented by HLA-A*0201) efficiently redirects and activates effector and memory cells from both CD8+ and CD4+ repertoires. Using isolated subpopulations of T cells, we find that both terminally differentiated and effector memory CD8+ T cells redirected by IMCgp100 are potent killers of melanoma cells. Furthermore, CD4+ effector memory T cells elicit potent cytotoxic activity leading to melanoma cell killing upon redirection by IMCgp100. The majority of T cell subsets belonging to both the CD8+ and CD4+ repertoires secrete key pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumour necrosis factor-?, interferon-?, interleukin-6) and chemokines (macrophage inflammatory protein-1?-?, interferon-?-inducible protein-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1). At an individual cell level, IMCgp100-redirected T cells display a polyfunctional phenotype, which is a hallmark of a potent anti-cancer response. This study demonstrates that IMCgp100 induces broad immune responses that extend beyond the induction of CD8+ T cell-mediated cytotoxicity. These findings are of particular importance because IMCgp100 is currently undergoing clinical trials as a single agent or in combination with check point inhibitors for patients with malignant melanoma.
Project description:Uveal melanoma patients with metastatic disease usually die within one year, emphasizing an urgent need to develop new treatment strategies for this cancer. MEK inhibitors improve survival in cutaneous melanoma patients but show only modest efficacy in metastatic uveal melanoma patients. In this study, we screened for growth factors that elicited resistance in newly characterized metastatic uveal melanoma cell lines to clinical-grade MEK inhibitors, trametinib and selumetinib. We show that neuregulin 1 (NRG1) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) provide resistance to MEK inhibition. Mechanistically, trametinib enhances the responsiveness to NRG1 and sustained HGF-mediated activation of AKT. Individually targeting ERBB3 and cMET, the receptors for NRG1 and HGF, respectively, overcome resistance to trametinib provided by these growth factors and by conditioned medium from fibroblasts that produce NRG1 and HGF. Inhibition of AKT also effectively reverses the protective effect of NRG1 and HGF in trametinib-treated cells. Uveal melanoma xenografts growing in the liver in vivo and a subset of liver metastases of uveal melanoma patients express activated forms of ERBB2 (the coreceptor for ERBB3) and cMET. Together, these results provide preclinical evidence for the use of MEK inhibitors in combination with clinical-grade anti-ERBB3 or anti-cMET monoclonal antibodies in metastatic uveal melanoma.
Project description:Uveal melanoma is an aggressive intraocular malignancy that often exhibits low immunogenicity. Metastatic uveal melanoma samples frequently exhibit monosomy 3 or BAP1 deficiency. In this study, we used bioinformatic methods to investigate the immune infiltration of uveal melanoma samples in public datasets. We first performed Gene Set Enrichment/Variation Analyses to detect immunological pathways that are altered in tumors with monosomy 3 or BAP1 deficiency. We then conducted an unsupervised clustering analysis to identify distinct immunologic molecular subtypes of uveal melanoma. We used CIBERSORT and ESTIMATE with RNA-seq data from The Cancer Genome Atlas and the GSE22138 microarray dataset to determine the sample-level immune subpopulations and immune scores of uveal melanoma samples. The Kaplan-Meier method and log-rank test were used to assess the prognostic value of particular immune cells and genes in uveal melanoma samples. Through these approaches, we discovered uveal melanoma-specific immunologic features, which may provide new insights into the tumor microenvironment and enhance the development of immunotherapies in the future.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Uveal melanoma is the most common primary intraocular malignancy among adults. It is, nevertheless, a rare disease, with an incidence of approximately one case per 100,000 individuals per year in Europe. Approximately half of tumors will eventually metastasize, and the liver is the organ usually affected. No standard-of-care treatment exists for metastasized uveal melanoma. Chemotherapies or liver-directed treatments do not usually result in long-term tumor control. Immunotherapies are currently the most promising therapy option available. METHODS:We reviewed both relevant recent literature on PubMed concerning the treatment of uveal melanoma with immunotherapies, and currently investigated drugs on ClinicalTrials.gov. Our own experiences with immune checkpoint blockers are included in a case series of 20 patients. RESULTS:Because few clinical trials have been conducted for metastasized uveal melanoma, no definitive treatment strategy exists for this rare disease. The outcomes of most immunotherapies are poor, especially compared with cutaneous melanoma. However, encouraging results have been found for some very recently investigated agents such as the bispecific tebentafusp, for which a remarkably increased one-year overall survival rate, and similarly increased disease control rate, were observed in early phase studies. CONCLUSIONS:The treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma remains challenging, and almost all patients still die from the disease. Long-term responses might be achievable by means of new immunological strategies. Patients should therefore be referred to large medical centers where they can take part in controlled clinical studies.
Project description:BACKGROUND:While recent years have seen a revolution in the treatment of metastatic cutaneous melanoma, no treatment has yet been able to demonstrate any prolonged survival in metastatic uveal melanoma. Thus, metastatic uveal melanoma remains a disease with an urgent unmet medical need. Reports of treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors have thus far been disappointing. Based on animal experiments, it is reasonable to hypothesize that the effect of immunotherapy may be augmented by epigenetic therapy. Proposed mechanisms include enhanced expression of HLA class I and cancer antigens on cancer cells, as well as suppression of myeloid suppressor cells. METHODS:The PEMDAC study is a multicenter, open label phase II study assessing the efficacy of concomitant use of the PD1 inhibitor pembrolizumab and the class I HDAC inhibitor entinostat in adult patients with metastatic uveal melanoma. Primary endpoint is objective response rate. Eligible patients have histologically confirmed metastatic uveal melanoma, ECOG performance status 0-1, measurable disease as per RECIST 1.1 and may have received any number of prior therapies, with the exception of anticancer immunotherapy. Twenty nine patients will be enrolled. Patients receive pembrolizumab 200?mg intravenously every third week in combination with entinostat 5?mg orally once weekly. Treatment will continue until progression of disease or intolerable toxicity or for a maximum of 24?months. DISCUSSION:The PEMDAC study is the first trial to assess whether the addition of an HDAC inhibitor to anti-PD1 therapy can yield objective anti-tumoral responses in metastatic UM. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov registration number: NCT02697630 . (Registered 3 March 2016). EudraCT registration number: 2016-002114-50.
Project description:The histological detection of laminin-rich vasculogenic mimicry patterns in human primary uveal melanomas is associated with death from metastases. We therefore hypothesized that highly invasive uveal melanoma cells forming vasculogenic mimicry patterns after exposure to a laminin-rich three-dimensional microenvironment would differentially express genes associated with invasive and metastatic behavior. However, we discovered that genes associated with differentiation (GDF15 and ATF3) and suppression of proliferation (CDKNa1/p21) were up-regulated in highly invasive uveal melanoma cells forming vasculogenic mimicry patterns, and genes associated with promotion of invasive and metastatic behavior such as CD44, CCNE2 (cyclin E2), THBS1 (thrombospondin 1), and CSPG2 (chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan; versican) were down-regulated. After forming vasculogenic mimicry patterns, uveal melanoma cells invaded only short distances, failed to replicate, and changed morphologically from the invasive epithelioid to the indolent spindle A phenotype. In human tissue samples, uveal melanoma cells within vasculogenic mimicry patterns assumed the spindle A morphology, and the expression of Ki67 was significantly reduced in adjacent melanoma cells. Thus, the generation of vasculogenic mimicry patterns is accompanied by dampening of the invasive and metastatic uveal melanoma genotype and phenotype and underscores the plasticity of these cells in response to cues from the microenvironment.
Project description:Uveal melanoma is an aggressive cancer that metastasizes to the liver in about half of the patients, with a high lethality rate. Identification of patients at high risk of metastases may provide indication for a frequent follow-up for early detection of metastases and treatment. The analysis of the gene expression profiles of primary human uveal melanomas showed high expression of SDCBP gene (encoding for syndecan-binding protein-1 or mda-9/syntenin), which appeared higher in patients with recurrence, whereas expression of syndecans was lower and unrelated to progression. Moreover, we found that high expression of SDCBP gene was related to metastatic progression in two additional independent datasets of uveal melanoma patients. More importantly, immunohistochemistry showed that high expression of mda-9/syntenin protein in primary tumors was significantly related to metastatic recurrence in our cohort of patients. Mda-9/syntenin expression was confirmed by RT-PCR, immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry in cultured uveal melanoma cells or primary tumors. Interestingly, mda-9/syntenin showed both cytoplasmic and nuclear localization in cell lines and in a fraction of patients, suggesting its possible involvement in nuclear functions. A pseudo-metastatic model of uveal melanoma to the liver was developed in NOD/SCID/IL2R? null mice and the study of mda-9/syntenin expression in primary and metastatic lesions revealed higher mda-9/syntenin in metastases. The inhibition of SDCBP expression by siRNA impaired the ability of uveal melanoma cells to migrate in a wound-healing assay. Moreover, silencing of SDCBP in mda-9/syntenin-high uveal melanoma cells inhibited the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)-triggered invasion of matrigel membranes and inhibited the activation of FAK, AKT and Src. Conversely syntenin overexpression in mda-9/syntenin-low uveal melanoma cells mediated opposite effects. These results suggest that mda-9/syntenin is involved in uveal melanoma progression and that it warrants further investigation as a candidate molecular marker of metastases and a potential therapeutic target.