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13 Use of anti-viral T cells to model HLA-restricted anti-tumor cytotoxic lymphocyte responses
  1. Michael Overstreet,
  2. Vanessa Muniz-Medina,
  3. Ruoyan Chen,
  4. James Kurasawa,
  5. Stacy Kentner,
  6. Deepali Malhotra,
  7. Jane Osbourn,
  8. Jill Walker and
  9. Gordon Moody
  1. AstrZeneca, Gaithersburg, MD, USA


Background With the success of T cell checkpoint antagonists in treating cancer, we must better understand treatment response heterogeneity and develop more physiological preclinical models for evaluating the next wave of candidate therapeutics. Several hurdles limit the successful recapitulation of the cellular and molecular interactions between human T cells and tumor cells, not the least of which involves the challenge of access to – and ex vivo manipulation of – bona fide tumor antigen-specific T cells.

Methods In order to improve on our understanding of checkpoint therapy using human model antigens, we developed an antigen-specific T cell-mediated cytotoxicity model using anti-viral human T cells co-cultured with a human tumor cell line expressing viral peptide epitopes.

Results We found that anti-viral T cells could be used to model cytotoxic HLA-restricted anti-tumor responses and these responses varied by donor according to peptide antigen density, antigen quality, T cell numbers, and time. By identifying sub-optimal conditions in a donor-specific fashion, we demonstrated enhanced cytolytic function of T cells in vitro when combined with multiple disparate anti-tumor modalities, including immune checkpoint blockade, growth factor blockade, and chemotherapy. This in vitro model was then successfully adapted to an in vivo tumor model system that demonstrated control of tumor growth in an antigen-dependent manner that was responsive to checkpoint blockade.

Conclusions These in vitro and in vivo systems represent a simple, yet elegant and robust platform for testing human T cell-directed immuno-oncology (IO) therapeutics and IO combinations.

Ethics Approval All animal experiments were conducted in a facility accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care in accordance with institutional animal care and use committee guidelines and after appropriate approvals.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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