Background The small intestinal axis (SINTAX) is a network of anatomic and functional connections between the small intestine and the rest of the body. It acts as an immunosurveillance system, integrating signals from the environment that affect physiological processes throughout the body. The impact of events in the gut in the control of tumor immunity is beginning to be appreciated. We have previously shown that an orally delivered single strain of commensal bacteria induces anti-tumor immunity preclinically via pattern recognition receptor-mediated activation of innate and adaptive immunity. Some bacteria produce extracellular vesicles (EVs) that share molecular content with the parent bacterium in a particle that is roughly 1/1000th the volume in a non-replicating form. We report here an orally-delivered and gut-restricted bacterial EV which potently attenuates tumor growth to a greater extent than whole bacteria or checkpoint inhibition.
Methods EDP1908 is a preparation of extracellular vesicles produced by a gram-stain negative strain of bacterium of the Oscillospiraceae family isolated from a human donor. EDP1908 was selected for its immunostimulatory profile in a screen of EVs from a range of distinct microbial strains. Its mechanism of action was determined by ex vivo analysis of the tumor microenvironment (TME) and by in vitro functional studies with murine and human cells.
Results Oral treatment of tumor-bearing mice with EDP1908 shows superior control of tumor growth compared to checkpoint inhibition (anti-PD-1) or an intact microbe. EDP1908 significantly increased the percentage of IFNγ and TNF producing CD8+ CTLs, NK cells, NKT cells and CD4+ cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME). EDP1908 also increased tumor-infiltrating dendritic cells (DC1 and DC2). Analysis of cytokines in the TME showed significant increases in IP-10 and IFNg production in mice treated with EDP1908, creating an environment conducive to the recruitment and activation of anti-tumor lymphocytes.
Conclusions This is the first report of striking anti-tumor effects of an orally delivered microbial extracellular vesicle. These data point to oral EVs as a new class of immunotherapeutic drugs. They are particularly effective at harnessing the biology of the small intestinal axis, acting locally on host cells in the gut to control distal immune responses within the TME. EDP1908 is in preclinical development for the treatment of cancer.
Ethics Approval Preclinical murine studies were conducted under the approval of the Avastus Preclinical Services’ Ethics Board. Human in vitro samples were attained by approval of the IntegReview Ethics Board; informed consent was obtained from all subjects.
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