Background Targeted immunotherapies have shown limited success in the context of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Due to the mutational landscape and heterogeneity attributed to this malignancy and toxicities associated with the targeting of myeloid lineage antigens, it has become apparent that a modular and controllable cell therapy approach with the potential to target multiple antigens is required. We propose a controlled ACT approach, where T cells are armed with synthetic agonistic receptors (SARs) that are conditionally activated only in the presence of a target AML-associated antigen, and a cross-linking bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) specific for both (SAR) T cell and tumour cell.
Materials and Methods A SAR composed of an extracellular EGFRvIII, trans-membrane CD28, and intracellular CD28 and CD3z domains was fused via overlap-extension PCR cloning. T cells were retrovirally transduced to stably express our SAR construct. SAR-specific bispecific T cell engagers (BiTE) that target AML-associated antigens were designed and expressed in Expi293FTMcells and purified by nickel affinity and size exclusion chromatography (SEC). We validated our approach in three human cancer models and patient-derived AML blasts expressing our AML-associated target antigen CD33.
Results CD33-EGFRvIII BiTE, monovalently selective for our SAR, induced conditional antigen-dependent activation, proliferation and differentiation of SAR-T cells. Further, SAR T cells bridged to their target cells by BiTE could form functional immunological synapses, resulting in efficient tumor cell lysis with specificity towards CD33-expressing AML cells. SAR.BiTE combination could also mediate specific cytotoxicity against patient-derived AML blasts whilst driving SAR T cell activation. In vivo, treatment with SAR.BiTE combination could efficiently eradicate leukemia and enhance survival in an AML xenograft model. Furthermore, we could show selective activation of SAR T cells, as well as a controllable reversibility of said activation upon depletion of the T cell engaging molecule.
Conclusions Here we apply the SAR x BiAb approach in efforts to deliver specific and conditional activation of agonistic receptor-transduced T cells, and targeted tumour cell lysis. The modularity of our platform will allow for a multi-targeting ACT approach with the potential to translate the ACT successes of B cell malignancies to AML. With a lack of truly specific AML antigens, it is invaluable that this approach possesses an intrinsic safety switch via its BiTE facet. Moreover, we are able to circumvent pan-T cell activation due to the specific targeting and activation of SAR T cells.
Disclosure Information M. Benmebarek: None. B.L. Cadilha: None. M. Hermann: None. S. Lesch: None. C. Augsburger: None. B. Brauchle: None. S. Stoiber: None. A. Darwich: None. F. Rataj: None. C. Klein: A. Employment (full or part-time); Significant; Roche. K. Hopfner: None. M. Subklewe: None. S. Endres: None. S. Kobold: None.
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