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1.  Importance of cyclophosphamide-induced bystander effect on T cells for a successful tumor eradication in response to adoptive immunotherapy in mice. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1998;101(2):429-441.
Cyclophosphamide (CTX) increases the antitumor effectiveness of adoptive immunotherapy in mice, and combined immunotherapy regimens are now used in some clinical trials. However, the mechanisms underlying the synergistic antitumor responses are still unclear. The purpose of this study was (a) to evaluate the antitumor response to CTX and adoptive immunotherapy in mice bearing four different syngeneic tumors (two responsive in vivo to CTX and two resistant); and (b) to define the mechanism(s) of the CTX-immunotherapy synergism. Tumor-bearing DBA/2 mice were treated with a single injection of CTX followed by an intravenous infusion of tumor-immune spleen cells. In all the four tumor models, a single CTX injection resulted in an impressive antitumor response to the subsequent injection of spleen cells from mice immunized with homologous tumor cells independently of the in vivo response to CTX alone. Detailed analysis of the antitumor mechanisms in mice transplanted with metastatic Friend leukemia cells revealed that (a) the effectiveness of this combined therapy was dependent neither on the CTX-induced reduction of tumor burden nor on CTX-induced inhibition of some putative tumor-induced suppressor cells; (b) the CTX/immune cells' regimen strongly protected the mice from subsequent injection of FLC, provided the animals were also preinoculated with inactivated homologous tumor together with the immune spleen cells; (c) CD4(+) T immune lymphocytes were the major cell type responsible for the antitumor activity; (d) the combined therapy was ineffective in mice treated with antiasialo-GM1 or anti-IFN-alpha/beta antibodies; (e) spleen and/ or bone marrow cells from CTX-treated mice produced soluble factors that assisted in proliferation of the spleen cells. Altogether, these results indicate that CTX acts via bystander effects, possibly through production of T cell growth factors occurring during the rebound events after drug administration, which may sustain the proliferation, survival, and activity of the transferred immune T lymphocytes. Thus, our findings indicate the need for reappraisal of the mechanisms underlying the synergistic effects of CTX and adoptive immunotherapy, and may provide new insights into the definition of new and more effective strategies with chemotherapy and adoptive immunotherapy for cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC508583  PMID: 9435316
2.  Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation—50 Years of Evolution and Future Perspectives 
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is a highly specialized and unique medical procedure. Autologous transplantation allows the administration of high-dose chemotherapy without prolonged bone marrow aplasia. In allogeneic transplantation, donor-derived stem cells provide alloimmunity that enables a graft-versus-tumor effect to eradicate residual disease and prevent relapse. The first allogeneic transplantation was performed by E. Donnall Thomas in 1957. Since then the field has evolved and expanded worldwide. New indications beside acute leukemia and aplastic anemia have been constantly explored and now include congenital disorders of the hematopoietic system, metabolic disorders, and autoimmune disease. The use of matched unrelated donors, umbilical cord blood units, and partially matched related donors has dramatically extended the availability of allogeneic transplantation. Transplant-related mortality has decreased due to improved supportive care, including better strategies to prevent severe infections and with the incorporation of reduced-intensity conditioning protocols that lowered the toxicity and allowed for transplantation in older patients. However, disease relapse and graft-versus-host disease remain the two major causes of mortality with unsatisfactory progress. Intense research aiming to improve adoptive immunotherapy and increase graft-versus-leukemia response while decreasing graft-versus-host response might bring the next breakthrough in allogeneic transplantation. Strategies of graft manipulation, tumor-associated antigen vaccinations, monoclonal antibodies, and adoptive cellular immunotherapy have already proved clinically efficient. In the following years, allogeneic transplantation is likely to become more complex, more individualized, and more efficient.
doi:10.5041/RMMJ.10162
PMCID: PMC4222417  PMID: 25386344
Adoptive immunotherapy; alternative donor; conditioning; graft-versus-host disease; graft-versus-leukemia; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
3.  HMGB1 Mediates Endogenous TLR2 Activation and Brain Tumor Regression 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1000010.
Background
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive primary brain tumor that carries a 5-y survival rate of 5%. Attempts at eliciting a clinically relevant anti-GBM immune response in brain tumor patients have met with limited success, which is due to brain immune privilege, tumor immune evasion, and a paucity of dendritic cells (DCs) within the central nervous system. Herein we uncovered a novel pathway for the activation of an effective anti-GBM immune response mediated by high-mobility-group box 1 (HMGB1), an alarmin protein released from dying tumor cells, which acts as an endogenous ligand for Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) signaling on bone marrow-derived GBM-infiltrating DCs.
Methods and Findings
Using a combined immunotherapy/conditional cytotoxic approach that utilizes adenoviral vectors (Ad) expressing Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) and thymidine kinase (TK) delivered into the tumor mass, we demonstrated that CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were required for tumor regression and immunological memory. Increased numbers of bone marrow-derived, tumor-infiltrating myeloid DCs (mDCs) were observed in response to the therapy. Infiltration of mDCs into the GBM, clonal expansion of antitumor T cells, and induction of an effective anti-GBM immune response were TLR2 dependent. We then proceeded to identify the endogenous ligand responsible for TLR2 signaling on tumor-infiltrating mDCs. We demonstrated that HMGB1 was released from dying tumor cells, in response to Ad-TK (+ gancyclovir [GCV]) treatment. Increased levels of HMGB1 were also detected in the serum of tumor-bearing Ad-Flt3L/Ad-TK (+GCV)-treated mice. Specific activation of TLR2 signaling was induced by supernatants from Ad-TK (+GCV)-treated GBM cells; this activation was blocked by glycyrrhizin (a specific HMGB1 inhibitor) or with antibodies to HMGB1. HMGB1 was also released from melanoma, small cell lung carcinoma, and glioma cells treated with radiation or temozolomide. Administration of either glycyrrhizin or anti-HMGB1 immunoglobulins to tumor-bearing Ad-Flt3L and Ad-TK treated mice, abolished therapeutic efficacy, highlighting the critical role played by HMGB1-mediated TLR2 signaling to elicit tumor regression. Therapeutic efficacy of Ad-Flt3L and Ad-TK (+GCV) treatment was demonstrated in a second glioma model and in an intracranial melanoma model with concomitant increases in the levels of circulating HMGB1.
Conclusions
Our data provide evidence for the molecular and cellular mechanisms that support the rationale for the clinical implementation of antibrain cancer immunotherapies in combination with tumor killing approaches in order to elicit effective antitumor immune responses, and thus, will impact clinical neuro-oncology practice.
Maria Castro and colleagues use cell line and transgenic mouse approaches to study the mechanisms underlying the immune response to glioblastoma multiforme.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year, more than 175,000 people develop a primary brain tumor (a cancer that starts in the brain rather than spreading in from elsewhere). Like all cancers, brain tumors develop when a cell acquires genetic changes that allow it to grow uncontrollably and that change other aspects of its behavior, including the proteins it makes. There are many different types of cells in the brain and, as a result, there are many different types of brain tumors. However, one in five primary brain tumors is glioblastoma multiforme (GBM; also known as grade 4 astrocytoma), a particularly aggressive cancer. With GBM, the average time from diagnosis to death is one year and only one person in 20 survives for five years after a diagnosis of GBM. Symptoms of GBM include headaches, seizures, and changes in memory, mood, or mental capacity. Treatments for GBM, which include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, do not “cure” the tumor but they can ease these symptoms.
Why Was This Study Done?
Better treatments for GBM are badly needed, and one avenue that is being explored is immunotherapy—a treatment in which the immune system is used to fight the cancer. Because many tumors make unusual proteins, the immune system can sometimes be encouraged to recognize tumor cells as foreign invaders and kill them. Unfortunately, attempts to induce a clinically useful anti-GBM immune response have been unsuccessful, partly because the brain contains very few dendritic cells, a type of immune system cell that kick-starts effective immune responses by presenting foreign proteins to other immune system cells. Another barrier to immunotherapy for GBM is immune evasion by the tumor. Many tumors develop ways to avoid the immune response as they grow. For example, they sometimes reduce the expression of proteins that the immune system might recognize as foreign. In this study, the researchers test a new combined treatment strategy for GBM in which dendritic cells are encouraged to enter the brain and tumor cells are killed to release proteins capable of stimulating an effective antitumor immune response.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers first established brain tumors in mice. Then, they injected harmless viruses carrying the genes for Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Ftl3L; a protein that attracts dendritic cells) and for thymidine kinase (TK; cells expressing TK are killed by a drug called gancyclovir) into the tumor. Expression of both Flt3L and TK (but not of either protein alone) plus gancyclovir treatment shrank the tumors and greatly improved the survival of the mice. The researchers show that their strategy increased the migration of dendritic cells into the tumor provided they expressed an immune system protein called Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2). TLR2 expression on the dendritic cells was also needed for an effective anti-tumor immune response and for tumor regression. TLR2 normally activates dendritic cells by binding to specific proteins on invading pathogens, so what was TLR2 binding to in the mouse tumors? The researchers reveal that TLR2 was responding to high-mobility-group box 1 (HMGB1), a protein released by the dying tumor cells by showing that treatment of the tumor-bearing mice with the HMGB1 inhibitor glycyrrhizin blocked the therapeutic effect of Flt3L/TK expression. Finally, the researchers report that other tumor cell types release HMGB1 when they are killed and that the Flt3L/TK expression strategy can also kill other tumors growing in mouse brains.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Results obtained in mouse models of human diseases do not always lead to effective treatments for human patients. Nevertheless, the findings of this study provide new insights into how an effective immune response against brain tumors might be brought about. Most importantly, they show that an effective strategy might need to both attract dendritic cells into the brain tumor and to kill tumor cells, so they release proteins that can activate the dendritic cells. That is, the authors suggest it's important to combine immunotherapies with tumor-killing strategies to provide effective treatments for primary and metastatic brain tumors
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000010.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about brain tumors for patients and health professionals and about the the immune system and how it can be harnessed to fight cancer (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK provides information on all aspects of brain tumors for patients and their caregivers
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about brain cancer, (including some links to information in Spanish)
The American Brain Tumor Association provides brain tumor resources and information
The National Brain Tumor Society provides educational and support services regarding brain tumors
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000010
PMCID: PMC2621261  PMID: 19143470
4.  Treatment of a Solid Tumor Using Engineered Drug-Resistant Immunocompetent Cells and Cytotoxic Chemotherapy 
Human Gene Therapy  2012;23(7):711-721.
Abstract
Multimodal therapy approaches, such as combining chemotherapy agents with cellular immunotherapy, suffers from potential drug-mediated toxicity to immune effector cells. Overcoming such toxic effects of anticancer cellular products is a potential critical barrier to the development of combined therapeutic approaches. We are evaluating an anticancer strategy that focuses on overcoming such a barrier by genetically engineering drug-resistant variants of immunocompetent cells, thereby allowing for the coadministration of cellular therapy with cytotoxic chemotherapy, a method we refer to as drug-resistant immunotherapy (DRI). The strategy relies on the use of cDNA sequences that confer drug resistance and recombinant lentiviral vectors to transfer nucleic acid sequences into immunocompetent cells. In the present study, we evaluated a DRI-based strategy that incorporates the immunocompetent cell line NK-92, which has intrinsic antitumor properties, genetically engineered to be resistant to both temozolomide and trimetrexate. These immune effector cells efficiently lysed neuroblastoma cell lines, which we show are also sensitive to both chemotherapy agents. The antitumor efficacy of the DRI strategy was demonstrated in vivo, whereby neuroblastoma-bearing NOD/SCID/γ-chain knockout (NSG) mice treated with dual drug-resistant NK-92 cell therapy followed by dual cytotoxic chemotherapy showed tumor regression and significantly enhanced survival compared with animals receiving either nonengineered cell-based therapy and chemotherapy, immunotherapy alone, or chemotherapy alone. These data show there is a benefit to using drug-resistant cellular therapy when combined with cytotoxic chemotherapy approaches.
Dasgupta and colleagues evaluate a drug-resistant immunotherapy approach aimed at overcoming the toxic effects of chemotherapeutic agents on cell-based cancer immunotherapies. Immunocompetent NK-92 cells, which are intrinsically antitumorigenic, were genetically engineered to be resistant to the chemotherapeutic agents temozolomide and trimetrexate. The NK-92 cells efficiently lysed neuroblastoma cell lines in vitro, and in vivo treatment of neuroblastoma-bearing NOD/SCID/cc mice with NK-92 cells followed by dual chemotherapy resulted in tumor regression and enhanced survival.
doi:10.1089/hum.2011.172
PMCID: PMC3404421  PMID: 22397715
5.  Trial Watch 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(5):e24238.
Adoptive cell transfer (ACT) represents a prominent form of immunotherapy against malignant diseases. ACT is conceptually distinct from dendritic cell-based approaches (which de facto constitute cellular vaccines) and allogeneic transplantation (which can be employed for the therapy of hematopoietic tumors) as it involves the isolation of autologous lymphocytes exhibiting antitumor activity, their expansion/activation ex vivo and their reintroduction into the patient. Re-infusion is most often performed in the context of lymphodepleting regimens (to minimize immunosuppression by host cells) and combined with immunostimulatory interventions, such as the administration of Toll-like receptor agonists. Autologous cells that are suitable for ACT protocols can be isolated from tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes or generated by engineering their circulating counterparts for the expression of transgenic tumor-specific T-cell receptors. Importantly, lymphocytes can be genetically modified prior to re-infusion for increasing their persistence in vivo, boosting antitumor responses and minimizing side effects. Moreover, recent data indicate that exhausted antitumor T lymphocytes may be rejuvenated in vitro by exposing them to specific cytokine cocktails, a strategy that might considerably improve the clinical success of ACT. Following up the Trial Watch that we published on this topic in the third issue of OncoImmunology (May 2012), here we summarize the latest developments in ACT-related research, covering both high-impact studies that have been published during the last 13 months and clinical trials that have been initiated in the same period to assess the antineoplastic profile of this form of cellular immunotherapy.
doi:10.4161/onci.24238
PMCID: PMC3667909  PMID: 23762803
chimeric antigen receptor; cyclophosphamide; FOXP3+ regulatory T cells; lymphodepletion; T-cell receptor; tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes
6.  In vivo sensitized and in vitro activated B cells mediate tumor regression in cancer adoptive immunotherapy1 
Adoptive cellular immunotherapy utilizing tumor-reactive T cells has proven to be a promising strategy for cancer treatment. However, we hypothesize that successful treatment strategies will have to appropriately stimulate not only cellular immunity, but also humoral immunity. We previously reported that B cells in tumor-draining lymph nodes (TDLN) may function as antigen-presenting cells. In this study, we identified TDLN B cells as effector cells in an adoptive immunotherapy model. In vivo primed and in vitro activated TDLN B cells alone mediated effective (p<0.05) tumor regression after adoptive transfer into two histologically distinct murine pulmonary metastatic tumor models. Prior lymphodepletion of the host with either chemotherapy or whole-body irradiation augmented the therapeutic efficacy of the adoptively transferred TDLN B cells in the treatment of subcutaneous tumors as well as metastatic pulmonary tumors. Furthermore, B cell plus T cell transfers resulted in substantially more efficient antitumor responses than B cells or T cells alone (p<0.05). Activated TDLN B cells conferred strong humoral responses to tumor. This was evident by the production of IgM, IgG and IgG2b, which bound specifically to tumor cells and led to specific tumor cell lysis in the presence of complement. Collectively, these data indicate that in vivo primed and in vitro activated B cells can be employed as effector cells for cancer therapy. The synergistic antitumor efficacy of co-transferred activated B effector cells and T effector cells represents a novel approach for cancer adoptive immunotherapy.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.0803773
PMCID: PMC3740231  PMID: 19667089
B Cells; T Cells; Antibody; Cytotoxicity; Cancer Immunotherapy
7.  Immune targeting of fibroblast activation protein triggers recognition of multipotent bone marrow stromal cells and cachexia 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(6):1125-1135.
Transfer of FAP-reactive T cells into mice bearing a variety of subcutaneous tumors mediated limited antitumor effects and induced significant cachexia and lethal bone toxicities
Fibroblast activation protein (FAP) is a candidate universal target antigen because it has been reported to be selectively expressed in nearly all solid tumors by a subset of immunosuppressive tumor stromal fibroblasts. We verified that 18/18 human tumors of various histologies contained pronounced stromal elements staining strongly for FAP, and hypothesized that targeting tumor stroma with FAP-reactive T cells would inhibit tumor growth in cancer-bearing hosts. T cells genetically engineered with FAP-reactive chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) specifically degranulated and produced effector cytokines upon stimulation with FAP or FAP-expressing cell lines. However, adoptive transfer of FAP-reactive T cells into mice bearing a variety of subcutaneous tumors mediated limited antitumor effects and induced significant cachexia and lethal bone toxicities in two mouse strains. We found that FAP was robustly expressed on PDGFR-α+, Sca-1+ multipotent bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) in mice, as well as on well-characterized, clinical-grade multipotent human BMSCs. Accordingly, both mouse and human multipotent BMSCs were recognized by FAP-reactive T cells. The lethal bone toxicity and cachexia observed after cell-based immunotherapy targeting FAP cautions against its use as a universal target. Moreover, the expression of FAP by multipotent BMSCs may point toward the cellular origins of tumor stromal fibroblasts.
doi:10.1084/jem.20130110
PMCID: PMC3674706  PMID: 23712432
8.  A Novel and Effective Cancer Immunotherapy Mouse Model Using Antigen-Specific B Cells Selected In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92732.
Immunotherapies such as adoptive transfer of T cells or natural killer cells, or monoclonal antibody (MoAb) treatment have recently been recognized as effective means to treat cancer patients. However, adoptive transfer of B cells or plasma cells producing tumor-specific antibodies has not been applied as a therapy because long-term culture and selective expansion of antigen-specific B cells has been technically very difficult. Here, we describe a novel cancer immunotherapy that uses B-cell adoptive transfer. We demonstrate that germinal-center-like B cells (iGB cells) induced in vitro from mouse naïve B cells become plasma cells and produce IgG antibodies for more than a month in the bone marrow of non-irradiated recipient mice. When transferred into mice, iGB cells producing antibody against a surrogate tumor antigen suppressed lung metastasis and growth of mouse melanoma cells expressing the same antigen and prolonged survival of the recipients. In addition, we have developed a novel culture system called FAIS to selectively expand antigen-specific iGB cells utilizing the fact that iGB cells are sensitive to Fas-induced cell death unless their antigen receptors are ligated by membrane-bound antigens. The selected iGB cells efficiently suppressed lung metastasis of melanoma cells in the adoptive immunotherapy model. As human blood B cells can be propagated as iGB cells using culture conditions similar to the mouse iGB cell cultures, our data suggest that it will be possible to treat cancer-bearing patients by the adoptive transfer of cancer-antigen-specific iGB cells selected in vitro. This new adoptive immunotherapy should be an alternative to the laborious development of MoAb drugs against cancers for which no effective treatments currently exist.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092732
PMCID: PMC3960256  PMID: 24647439
9.  IL-12 triggers a programmatic change in dysfunctional myeloid-derived cells within mouse tumors 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(12):4746-4757.
Solid tumors are complex masses with a local microenvironment, or stroma, that supports tumor growth and progression. Among the diverse tumor-supporting stromal cells is a heterogeneous population of myeloid-derived cells. These cells are alternatively activated and contribute to the immunosuppressive environment of the tumor; overcoming their immunosuppressive effects may improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies. We recently found that engineering tumor-specific CD8+ T cells to secrete the inflammatory cytokine IL-12 improved their therapeutic efficacy in the B16 mouse model of established melanoma. Here, we report the mechanism underlying this finding. Surprisingly, direct binding of IL-12 to receptors on lymphocytes or NK cells was not required. Instead, IL-12 sensitized bone marrow–derived tumor stromal cells, including CD11b+F4/80hi macrophages, CD11b+MHCIIhiCD11chi dendritic cells, and CD11b+Gr-1hi myeloid–derived suppressor cells, causing them to enhance the effects of adoptively transferred CD8+ T cells. This reprogramming of myeloid-derived cells occurred partly through IFN-γ. Surprisingly, direct presentation of antigen to the transferred CD8+ T cells by tumor was not necessary; however, MHCI expression on host cells was essential for IL-12–mediated antitumor enhancements. These results are consistent with a model in which IL-12 enhances the ability of CD8+ T cells to collapse large vascularized tumors by triggering programmatic changes in otherwise suppressive antigen-presenting cells within tumors and support the use of IL-12 as part of immunotherapy for the treatment of solid tumors.
doi:10.1172/JCI58814
PMCID: PMC3226001  PMID: 22056381
10.  Virus and Autoantigen-Specific CD4+ T Cells Are Key Effectors in a SCID Mouse Model of EBV-Associated Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorders 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(5):e1004068.
Polyclonal Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected B cell line (lymphoblastoid cell lines; LCL)-stimulated T-cell preparations have been successfully used to treat EBV-positive post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD) in transplant recipients, but function and specificity of the CD4+ component are still poorly defined. Here, we assessed the tumor-protective potential of different CD4+ T-cell specificities in a PTLD-SCID mouse model. Injection of different virus-specific CD4+ T-cell clones showed that single specificities were capable of prolonging mouse survival and that the degree of tumor protection directly correlated with recognition of target cells in vitro. Surprisingly, some CD4+ T-cell clones promoted tumor development, suggesting that besides antigen recognition, still elusive functional differences exist among virus-specific T cells. Of several EBV-specific CD4+ T-cell clones tested, those directed against virion antigens proved most tumor-protective. However, enriching these specificities in LCL-stimulated preparations conferred no additional survival benefit. Instead, CD4+ T cells specific for unknown, probably self-antigens were identified as principal antitumoral effectors in LCL-stimulated T-cell lines. These results indicate that virion and still unidentified cellular antigens are crucial targets of the CD4+ T-cell response in this preclinical PTLD-model and that enriching the corresponding T-cell specificities in therapeutic preparations may enhance their clinical efficacy. Moreover, the expression in several EBV-negative B-cell lymphoma cell lines implies that these putative autoantigen(s) might also qualify as targets for T-cell-based immunotherapy of virus-negative B cell malignancies.
Author Summary
The γ-herpesvirus Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with several human malignancies, including post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD) in immunocompromised patients. The successful treatment of EBV-positive PTLD by the infusion of EBV-specific T-cell lines has provided an important proof of principle for immunotherapy of EBV-associated tumors and for cancer immunotherapy in general. EBV-specific T-cell preparations for clinical application are generated by repeated stimulation with autologous LCL in vitro. These lines contain CD4+ and CD8+ components but the specificity of the infused CD4+ T cells is still poorly defined. Using a mouse model of PTLD, we assessed the antitumoral potential of single virus-specific CD4+ T-cell clones. While T cells specific for a virion antigen of the virus prolonged mouse survival, other virus-specific clones had no effect or, unexpectedly, even promoted tumor growth. Moreover, the principal antitumoral effectors in LCL-stimulated T-cell preparations were CD4+ T cells specific for non-virus antigens. The definition of virion- and potentially autoantigen-specific CD4+ T cells as key effectors against PTLD may contribute to the design of generic and standardized protocols for the generation of T-cell lines with improved clinical efficacy. In addition, the observed tumor-promoting propensity of some CD4+ T cells may have implications for adoptive T-cell therapy in general.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004068
PMCID: PMC4031221  PMID: 24853673
11.  Adoptive Immunotherapy for Hematological Malignancies Using T Cells Gene-Modified to Express Tumor Antigen-Specific Receptors 
Pharmaceuticals  2014;7(12):1049-1068.
Accumulating clinical evidence suggests that adoptive T-cell immunotherapy could be a promising option for control of cancer; evident examples include the graft-vs-leukemia effect mediated by donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) and therapeutic infusion of ex vivo-expanded tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) for melanoma. Currently, along with advances in synthetic immunology, gene-modified T cells retargeted to defined tumor antigens have been introduced as “cellular drugs”. As the functional properties of the adoptive immune response mediated by T lymphocytes are decisively regulated by their T-cell receptors (TCRs), transfer of genes encoding target antigen-specific receptors should enable polyclonal T cells to be uniformly redirected toward cancer cells. Clinically, anticancer adoptive immunotherapy using genetically engineered T cells has an impressive track record. Notable examples include the dramatic benefit of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) gene-modified T cells redirected towards CD19 in patients with B-cell malignancy, and the encouraging results obtained with TCR gene-modified T cells redirected towards NY-ESO-1, a cancer-testis antigen, in patients with advanced melanoma and synovial cell sarcoma. This article overviews the current status of this treatment option, and discusses challenging issues that still restrain the full effectiveness of this strategy, especially in the context of hematological malignancy.
doi:10.3390/ph7121049
PMCID: PMC4276906  PMID: 25517545
adoptive immunotherapy; gene-modified T cell; T-cell receptor; chimeric antigen receptor; hematological malignancy
12.  HLA-Ig Based Artificial Antigen Presenting Cells for Efficient ex vivo Expansion of Human CTL 
CTL with optimal effector function play critical roles in mediating protection against various intracellular infections and cancer. However, individuals may exhibit suppressive immune microenvironment and, in contrast to activating CTL, their autologous antigen presenting cells may tend to tolerize or anergize antigen specific CTL. As a result, although still in the experimental phase, CTL-based adoptive immunotherapy has evolved to become a promising treatment for various diseases such as cancer and virus infections. In initial experiments ex vivo expanded CMV (cytomegalovirus) specific CTL have been used for treatment of CMV infection in immunocompromised allogeneic bone marrow transplant patients. While it is common to have life-threatening CMV viremia in these patients, none of the patients receiving expanded CTL develop CMV related illness, implying the anti-CMV immunity is established by the adoptively transferred CTL1. Promising results have also been observed for melanoma and may be extended to other types of cancer2.
While there are many ways to ex vivo stimulate and expand human CTL, current approaches are restricted by the cost and technical limitations. For example, the current gold standard is based on the use of autologous DC. This requires each patient to donate a significant number of leukocytes and is also very expensive and laborious. Moreover, detailed in vitro characterization of DC expanded CTL has revealed that these have only suboptimal effector function 3.
Here we present a highly efficient aAPC based system for ex vivo expansion of human CMV specific CTL for adoptive immunotherapy (Figure 1). The aAPC were made by coupling cell sized magnetic beads with human HLA-A2-Ig dimer and anti-CD28mAb4. Once aAPC are made, they can be loaded with various peptides of interest, and remain functional for months. In this report, aAPC were loaded with a dominant peptide from CMV, pp65 (NLVPMVATV). After culturing purified human CD8+ CTL from a healthy donor with aAPC for one week, CMV specific CTL can be increased dramatically in specificity up to 98% (Figure 2) and amplified more than 10,000 fold. If more CMV-specific CTL are required, further expansion can be easily achieved by repetitive stimulation with aAPC. Phenotypic and functional characterization shows these expanded cells have an effector-memory phenotype and make significant amounts of both TNFα and IFNγ (Figure 3).
doi:10.3791/2801
PMCID: PMC3169282  PMID: 21505415
13.  NK cell-based immunotherapy for malignant diseases 
Cellular and Molecular Immunology  2013;10(3):230-252.
Natural killer (NK) cells play critical roles in host immunity against cancer. In response, cancers develop mechanisms to escape NK cell attack or induce defective NK cells. Current NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy aims to overcome NK cell paralysis using several approaches. One approach uses expanded allogeneic NK cells, which are not inhibited by self histocompatibility antigens like autologous NK cells, for adoptive cellular immunotherapy. Another adoptive transfer approach uses stable allogeneic NK cell lines, which is more practical for quality control and large-scale production. A third approach is genetic modification of fresh NK cells or NK cell lines to highly express cytokines, Fc receptors and/or chimeric tumor-antigen receptors. Therapeutic NK cells can be derived from various sources, including peripheral or cord blood cells, stem cells or even induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and a variety of stimulators can be used for large-scale production in laboratories or good manufacturing practice (GMP) facilities, including soluble growth factors, immobilized molecules or antibodies, and other cellular activators. A list of NK cell therapies to treat several types of cancer in clinical trials is reviewed here. Several different approaches to NK-based immunotherapy, such as tissue-specific NK cells, killer receptor-oriented NK cells and chemically treated NK cells, are discussed. A few new techniques or strategies to monitor NK cell therapy by non-invasive imaging, predetermine the efficiency of NK cell therapy by in vivo experiments and evaluate NK cell therapy approaches in clinical trials are also introduced.
doi:10.1038/cmi.2013.10
PMCID: PMC4076738  PMID: 23604045
cancer; clinical trial; expansion; immunotherapy; natural killer cell
14.  T lymphocyte Recovery and Function After Cord Blood Transplantation 
Immunologic research  2011;49(0):56-69.
The Szabolcs Lab is focused on understanding the biology of donor-derived cellular immunity in recipients of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) that can be translated into new immunotherapy strategies. To this end, we are focused on developing novel laboratory approaches to analyze and augment immune recovery for high risk patient cohorts without increasing graft versus host disease (GVHD). Much of our work has focused on unrelated cord blood transplantation (UCBT) as the dominant clinical scenario and laboratory model. Our overarching goal is to minimize transplant related mortality and morbidity and render HLA-mismatched unrelated cord blood transplant a widely accepted safe cellular therapy. Donor leukocyte infusions (DLI) in the allogeneic hematopoietic transplant setting can provide a clinically relevant boost of immunity to reduce opportunistic infections and to increase graft-versus-leukemia activity. Our Lab has a major focus towards ex-vivo expansion of cord blood T cells with anti-apoptotic cytokines and CD3/CD28 co-stimulatory beads. Expanded lymphocytes lack alloreactivity against recipient and other allogeneic cells indicating a favorable safety profile from graft-versus-host disease. Nevertheless, expanded T cells can be primed subsequently against lymphoid and myeloid leukemia cells to generate tumor-specific cytotoxic T cells. These findings offer a major step in fulfilling critical biological requirements to quickly generate a cellular product ex vivo, using a negligible fraction of a cord blood graft that provides a flexible adoptive immunotherapy platform for both for children and adults.
doi:10.1007/s12026-010-8194-6
PMCID: PMC3684067  PMID: 21128006
cord blood; transplantation; lymphopenia; plasmacytoid dendritic cells; CD4+ T lymphocytes; ex vivo expansion; donor leukocyte infusion (DLI); graft-versus-host disease (GVHD); graft-versus-leukemia (GVL)
15.  The immunogenicity of virus-derived 2A sequences in immunocompetent individuals 
Gene therapy  2013;20(9):958-962.
Genetic engineering of T cells for adoptive immunotherapy in cancer patients has shown significant promise. To ensure optimal antitumor activity and safety, the simultaneous expression of multiple genes is frequently required, and short viral-derived 2A sequences are increasingly preferred for this purpose. Concerns exist, however, that these virus-derived sequences may induce unwanted immune responses, and thus diminish persistence of the gene-modified cells after adoptive transfer. Whereas such responses were absent in immunocompromised recipients, potential immunogenicity in immunocompetent individuals remains a concern. We now address whether ex vivo T cell responses can be elicited against the most widely used 2A sequences (2A-Thosea asigna virus (TAV) or 2A-equine rhinitis virus (ERAV), specifically) in immunocompetent individuals. We used a potent ex vivo culture system previously validated to induce T cell responses even against weakly immunogenic antigens. Of the sixteen donors tested, only five released very low levels of interferon-γ in response to 2A-TAV peptide mixtures (single peptide specificity in three donors, adjacent self-antigen peptide specificity in one donor and nonspecific reactivity in one donor). None of them produced cytotoxic activity or responded to 2A-ERAV. These results suggest that exposure to viral-derived 2A sequences is unlikely to produce unwanted T cell responses in immunocompetent individuals and further supports their continued use for studies of human gene therapy.
doi:10.1038/gt.2013.25
PMCID: PMC3766470  PMID: 23698740
2A sequences; polycistronic vectors; T cell gene transfer; immunogenicity
16.  Suppression of graft-versus-host disease and amplification of graft-versus-tumor effects by activated natural killer cells after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1998;101(9):1835-1842.
Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is currently used for the treatment of a variety of neoplastic diseases. However, significant obstacles limiting the efficacy of allogeneic BMT are the occurrence of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) and tumor relapse. Natural killer (NK) cells exert a variety of immunologic and homoeostatic functions. We examined whether adoptive transfer of activated NK cells of donor type would prevent GvHD after allogeneic BMT in mice. Lethally irradiated C57BL/6 (H-2(b)) mice, were transplanted with MHC incompatible BALB/c (H-2(d)) bone marrow cells and spleen cells and rapidly succumbed to acute GvHD. In contrast, mice that also received activated NK cells of donor type exhibited significant increases in survival. In determining the mechanism by which the NK cells prevented GvHD, mice were concurrently treated with a neutralizing antibodies to the immunosuppressive cytokine TGFbeta. Anti-TGFbeta completely abrogated the protective effects of the activated donor NK cells indicating that TGFbeta plays an important role in the prevention of GvHD by NK cells. We then examined whether activated NK cells of donor type after allogeneic BMT would induce graft-versus-tumor (GvT) effects without GvHD in mice bearing a murine colon adenocarcinoma (MCA-38). 10 d after receiving the tumor, in which the mice had demonstrable lung metastases, recipients received an allogeneic BMT with or without activated NK cells. Administration of activated NK cells resulted in significant GvT effects after allogeneic BMT as evidenced by increases in median survival and fewer lung metastasis. No evidence of GVHD was detected compared with recipients receiving spleen cells alone which also developed fewer lung metastases but in which all had succumbed to GVHD. Thus, our findings suggest that adoptive immunotherapy using activated donor NK cells combined with allogeneic BMT inhibits GvHD and promotes GvT in advanced tumor-bearing mice. These results also suggest that GvT and GvHD can be dissociable phenomena.
PMCID: PMC508768  PMID: 9576746
17.  PTEN Knockout Prostate Cancer as a Model for Experimental Immunotherapy 
The Journal of urology  2008;181(1):354-362.
Purpose
Testing immunotherapeutic strategies for prostate cancer has been impeded by the lack of relevant tumor models in immunocompetent animals. This opportunity is now provided by the recent development of prostate specific PTEN knockout mice, which show spontaneous development of true adenocarcinoma arising from prostate epithelium and more faithfully recapitulate the human disease than any previous model. We investigated the feasibility of using tumor cells derived from this model to test tumor vaccination and adoptive immunotherapeutic strategies for prostate cancer.
Materials and Methods
PTEN-CaP8 adenocarcinoma cells derived from the biallelic PTEN knockout prostate cancer model were used to vaccinate nontumor bearing litter mates. Tumor specific effector cells were generated from splenocytes of vaccinated mice by mixed lymphocyte-tumor reactions, and antiproliferative effects and cytokine generation were examined in vitro. The effect of vaccination or adoptive immunotherapy on luciferase marked PTEN-CaP8 subcutaneous tumors was monitored by tumor volumetric measurements and noninvasive bioluminescence imaging.
Results
Vaccination of litter mate mice with irradiated PTEN-CaP8 cells showed a significant prophylactic effect against the subsequent tumor challenge. Effector cells harvested from vaccinated litter mates showed significant interferon-γ secretion upon co-incubation with PTEN-CaP8 target cells and they were capable of efficient target cell growth inhibition in vitro. Intratumor adoptive transfer of effector cells resulted in significant growth inhibition of preestablished prostate tumors in vivo.
Conclusions
The PTEN knockout model serves as a highly useful model in which to investigate tumor cell vaccination and adoptive immunotherapeutic strategies in the context of true adenocarcinoma of the prostate. This model should accelerate efforts to develop effective immunotherapies for human prostate cancer.
doi:10.1016/j.juro.2008.08.124
PMCID: PMC2838731  PMID: 19010487
prostate; prostatic neoplasms; PLIP protein; mouse; cancer vaccines; immunotherapy; adoptive
18.  Adoptively-transferred ex vivo expanded γδ-T cells mediate in vivo antitumor activity in preclinical mouse models of breast cancer 
In contrast to antigen-specific αβ-T cells (adaptive immune system), γδ-T cells can recognize and lyse malignantly transformed cells almost immediately upon encounter in a manner that does not require the recognition of tumor-specific antigens (innate immune system). Given the well-documented capacity of γδ-T cells to innately kill a variety of malignant cells, efforts are now actively underway to exploit the antitumor properties of γδ-T cells for clinical purposes. Here, we present for the first time preclinical in vivo mouse models of γδ-T cell-based immunotherapy directed against breast cancer. These studies were explicitly designed to approximate clinical situations in which adoptively-transferred γδ-T cells would be employed therapeutically against breast cancer. Using radioisotope-labeled γδ-T cells, we first show that adoptively-transferred γδ-T cells localize to breast tumors in a mouse model (4T1 mammary adenocarcinoma) of human breast cancer. Moreover, by using an antibody directed against the γδ-T cell receptor (TCR) we determined that localization of adoptively-transferred γδ-T cells to tumor is a TCR-dependant process. Additionally, biodistribution studies revealed that adoptively-transferred γδ-T cells traffic differently in tumor-bearing mice compared to healthy with fewer γδ-T cells localizing into the spleens of tumor-bearing mice. Finally, in both syngeneic (4T1) and xenogeneic (2Lmp) models of breast cancer, we demonstrate that adoptively-transferred γδ-T cells are both effective against breast cancer and are otherwise well-tolerated by treated animals. These findings provide a strong preclinical rationale for using ex vivo expanded adoptively-transferred γδ-T cells as a form of cell-based immunotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer. Additionally, these studies establish that clinically-applicable methods for radiolabeling γδ-T cells allows for the tracking of adoptively-transferred γδ-T cells in tumor-bearing hosts.
doi:10.1007/s10549-009-0527-6
PMCID: PMC2883655  PMID: 19763820
γδ-T cells; Immunotherapy; Cell therapy; Innate Immunity
19.  Adoptive T-cell immunotherapy of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia 
Immunotherapy for B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (B-CLL) and other haematological malignancies may consist of passive antibody, active immunization or adoptive T-cell transfer. This chapter will focus on T-lymphocyte immunotherapy; an approach supported by earlier observations that the beneficial effects of allogeneic stem cell transplantation depend, in part, on the graft-versus-leukaemia effects mediated by these cells. One promising strategy consists of the genetic manipulation of effector T lymphocytes to express tumour-specific T-cell receptors or chimeric antigen receptors directed against surface antigens on the B-CLL cells. This methodology is now being integrated with the concept that tumour recurrence may be due to the persistence of a reservoir of more primitive and chemoresistant tumour cells, dubbed ‘cancer stem cells’, with self-renewal capacity. Identification and characterization of these cancer stem cells in B-CLL is crucial for the development of new anti-tumour agents, and for the identification of target antigens for cellular immunotherapy. This chapter will describe how immunotherapy may be directed to a more primitive side population of B-CLL cells.
doi:10.1016/j.beha.2008.08.002
PMCID: PMC2758265  PMID: 18790444
chronic lymphocytic leukaemia; immunotherapy; adoptive T-cell transfer; chimeric antigen receptor; CD19; CD20; immunoglobulins; cancer stem cells
20.  CMV-specific T cell isolation from G-CSF mobilized peripheral blood: depletion of myeloid progenitors eliminates non-specific binding of MHC-multimers 
Background
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)-specific T cell infusion to immunocompromised patients following allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (allo-HSCT) is able to induce a successful anti-viral response. These cells have classically been manufactured from steady-state apheresis samples collected from the donor in an additional harvest prior to G-CSF mobilization, treatment that induces hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) mobilization to the periphery. However, two closely-timed cellular collections are not usually available in the unrelated donor setting, which limits the accessibility of anti-viral cells for adoptive immunotherapy. CMV-specific cytotoxic T cell (CTL) manufacture from the same G-CSF mobilized donor stem cell harvest offers great regulatory advantages, but the isolation using MHC-multimers is hampered by the high non-specific binding to myeloid progenitors, which reduces the purity of the cellular product.
Methods
In the present study we describe an easy and fast method based on plastic adherence to remove myeloid cell subsets from 11 G-CSF mobilized donor samples. CMV-specific CTLs were isolated from the non-adherent fraction using pentamers and purity and yield of the process were compared to products obtained from unmanipulated samples.
Results
After the elimination of unwanted cell subtypes, non-specific binding of pentamers was notably reduced. Accordingly, following the isolation process the purity of the obtained cellular product was significantly improved.
Conclusions
G-CSF mobilized leukapheresis samples can successfully be used to isolate antigen-specific T cells with MHC-multimers to be adoptively transferred following allo-HSCT, widening the accessibility of this therapy in the unrelated donor setting. The combination of the clinically translatable plastic adherence process to the antigen-specific cell isolation using MHC-multimers improves the quality of the therapeutic cellular product, thereby reducing the clinical negative effects associated with undesired alloreactive cell infusion.
doi:10.1186/s12967-014-0317-8
PMCID: PMC4243324  PMID: 25406933
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Cytomegalovirus-specific cytotoxic T cells; MHC-multimers; Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor; Immunotherapy
21.  Evaluating the Cellular Targets of Anti-4-1BB Agonist Antibody during Immunotherapy of a Pre-Established Tumor in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11003.
Background
Manipulation of the immune system represents a promising avenue for cancer therapy. Rational advances in immunotherapy of cancer will require an understanding of the precise correlates of protection. Agonistic antibodies against the tumor necrosis factor receptor family member 4-1BB are emerging as a promising tool in cancer therapy, with evidence that these antibodies expand both T cells as well as innate immune cells. Depletion studies have suggested that several cell types can play a role in these immunotherapeutic regimens, but do not reveal which cells must directly receive the 4-1BB signals for effective therapy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We show that re-activated memory T cells are superior to resting memory T cells in control of an 8-day pre-established E.G7 tumor in mice. We find that ex vivo activation of the memory T cells allows the activated effectors to continue to divide and enter the tumor, regardless of antigen-specificity; however, only antigen-specific reactivated memory T cells show any efficacy in tumor control. When agonistic anti-4-1BB antibody is combined with this optimized adoptive T cell therapy, 80% of mice survive and are fully protected from tumor rechallenge. Using 4-1BB-deficient mice and mixed bone marrow chimeras, we find that it is sufficient to have 4-1BB only on the endogenous host αβ T cells or only on the transferred T cells for the effects of anti-4-1BB to be realized. Conversely, although multiple immune cell types express 4-1BB and both T cells and APC expand during anti-4-1BB therapy, 4-1BB on cells other than αβ T cells is neither necessary nor sufficient for the effect of anti-4-1BB in this adoptive immunotherapy model.
Conclusions/Significance
This study establishes αβ T cells rather than innate immune cells as the critical target in anti-4-1BB therapy of a pre-established tumor. The study also demonstrates that ex vivo activation of memory T cells prior to infusion allows antigen-specific tumor control without the need for reactivation of the memory T cells in the tumor.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011003
PMCID: PMC2882368  PMID: 20543982
22.  T lymphocytes derived from human cord blood provide effective antitumor immunotherapy against a human tumor 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:225.
Background
Although the graft-versus-tumor (GVT) effect of donor-derived T cells after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has been used as an effective adoptive immunotherapy, the antitumor effects of cord blood (CB) transplantation have not been well studied.
Methods
We established the animal model by transplantation of CB mononuclear cells and/or tumor cells into NOD/SCID mice. The presence of CB derived T cells in NOD/SCID mice or tumor tissues were determined by flow cytometric and immunohistochemical analysis. The anti-tumor effects of CB derived T cells against tumor was determined by tumor size and weight, and by the cytotoxicity assay and ELISPOT assay of T cells.
Results
We found dramatic tumor remission following transfer of CB mononuclear cells into NOD/SCID mice with human cervical tumors with a high infiltration of CD3+ T cells in tumors. NOD/SCID mice that receive neonatal CB transplants have reconstituted T cells with significant antitumor effects against human cervical and lung tumors, with a high infiltration of CD3+ T cells showing dramatic induction of apoptotic cell death. We also confirmed that T cells showed tumor specific antigen cytotoxicity in vitro. In adoptive transfer of CD3+ T cells into mice with pre-established tumors, we observed much higher antitumor effects of HPV-specific T cells by ELISPOT assays.
Conclusions
Our results show that CB derived T lymphocytes will be useful for novel immunotherapeutic candidate cells for therapy of several tumors in clinic.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-225
PMCID: PMC3141763  PMID: 21649881
23.  Improvement of a Dendritic Cell-Based Therapeutic Cancer Vaccine with Components of Toxoplasma gondii▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2009;16(10):1393-1398.
The use of dendritic cells (DCs) as a cellular adjuvant is a promising approach to the immunotherapy of cancer. It has previously been demonstrated that DCs pulsed ex vivo with Toxoplasma gondii antigens trigger a systemic Th1-biased specific immune response and induce protective and specific antitoxoplasma immunity. In the present study, we demonstrate that tumor antigen-pulsed DCs matured in the presence of Toxoplasma gondii components induce a potent antitumor response in a mouse model of fibrosarcoma. Bone-marrow derived DCs (BMDCs) were cultured in the presence of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin-4. After 5 days, tumor lysates with or without the T. gondii lysate were added to the culture for another 2 days. The cytokine production in the BMDC culture and the coculture supernatants of DCs and splenic cells was evaluated. For immunization, 7 days after tumor challenge, different groups of BALB/c mice received different kinds of DCs subcutaneously around the tumor site. Tumor growth was monitored, and 2 weeks after DC immunotherapy, the cytotoxic activity and the infiltration of CD8+ T cells were monitored in different groups. According to the findings, immunotherapy with T. gondii-matured DCs led to a significant increase in the activity of cytotoxic T cells and decreased the rate of growth of the tumor in immunized animals. Immature DCs did not cause any change in cytotoxic activity or the tumor growth rate compared to that in the healthy controls. The current study suggests that a specific antitumor immune response can be induced by DCs matured with T. gondii components and provide the basis for the use of T. gondii in DC-targeted clinical therapies.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00199-09
PMCID: PMC2756855  PMID: 19656994
24.  Adoptive immunotherapy of cancer 
Self Nonself  2011;2(2):80-84.
Adoptive transfer of tumor-reactive T cells has emerged as a promising advance in tumor immunotherapy. Specifically, infusion of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes has led to long-term objective clinical responses for patients with metastatic melanoma. Donor lymphocyte infusion is also an effective treatment of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease. However, adoptive T cell therapy has restrictions in the isolation and expansion of antigen-specific lymphocytes for a large group of patients. One approach to circumvent this limitation and extend adoptive immunotherapy to other cancer types is the genetic modification of T cells with antigen-specific receptors. In this article, we review strategies to redirect T cell specificity, including T cell receptor gene transfer and antibody receptor gene transfer.
doi:10.4161/self.2.2.15832
PMCID: PMC3268993  PMID: 22299059
T cell receptor; CAR; T cells; gene therapy; immunotherapy
25.  Multiple injections of electroporated autologous T cells expressing a chimeric antigen receptor mediate regression of human disseminated tumor 
Cancer research  2010;70(22):9053-9061.
Redirecting T lymphocyte antigen specificity by gene transfer can provide large numbers of tumor reactive T lymphocytes for adoptive immunotherapy. However, safety concerns associated with viral vector production have limited clinical application of T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). T lymphocytes can be gene modified by RNA electroporation without integration-associated safety concerns. To establish a safe platform for adoptive immunotherapy, we first optimized the vector backbone for RNA in vitro transcription to achieve high level transgene expression. CAR expression and function of RNA-electroporated T cells could be detected up to a week post electroporation. Multiple injections of RNA CAR electroporated T cells mediated regression of large vascularized flank mesothelioma tumors in NOD/scid/γc(−/−) mice. Dramatic tumor reduction also occurred when the pre-existing intraperitoneal human-derived tumors, that had been growing in vivo for over 50 days, were treated by multiple injections of autologous human T cells electroporated with anti-mesothelin CAR mRNA. This is the first report using matched patient tumor and lymphocytes demonstrating that autologous T cells from cancer patients can be engineered to provide an effective therapy for a disseminated tumor in a robust preclinical model. Multiple injections of RNA engineered T cells are a novel approach for adoptive cell transfer, providing flexible platform for the treatment of cancer that may complement the use of retroviral and lentiviral engineered T cells. This approach may increase the therapeutic index of T cells engineered to express powerful activation domains without the associated safety concerns of integrating viral vectors.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-2880
PMCID: PMC2982929  PMID: 20926399
adoptive transfer; chimeric antigen receptor; electroporation; tumor immunotherapy; mesothelioma

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