Background MHC class I related proteins A (MICA) and B (MICB) are induced by cellular stress and transformation, and their expression has been reported for many cancer types. NKG2D, an activating receptor expressed on natural killer (NK) and T cells, targets the membrane-distal domains of MICA/B, activating a potent cytotoxic response. However, advanced cancer cells frequently evade immune cell recognition by proteolytic shedding of the α1 and α2 domains of MICA/B, which can significantly reduce NKG2D function and the cytolytic activity.
Methods Recent publications have shown that therapeutic antibodies targeting the membrane-proximal α3 domain inhibited MICA/B shedding, resulting in a substantial increase in the cell surface density of MICA/B and restoration of immune cell-mediated tumor immunity.1 We have developed a novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeting the conserved α3 domain of MICA/B (CAR-MICA/B). Additionally, utilizing our proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) product platform, we have developed multiplexed engineered, iPSC-derived CAR-MICA/B NK (iNK) cells for off-the-shelf cancer immunotherapy.
Results A screen of CAR spacer and ScFv orientations in primary T cells delineated MICA-specific in vitro activation and cytotoxicity as well as in vivo tumor control against MICA+ cancer cells. The novel CAR-MICA/B design was used to compare efficacy against NKG2D CAR T cells, an alternative MICA/B targeting strategy. CAR-MICA/B T cells showed superior cytotoxicity against melanoma, breast cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and lung cancer lines in vitro compared to primary NKG2D CAR T cells (p<0.01). Additionally, using an in vivo xenograft metastasis model, CAR-MICA/B T cells eliminated A2058 human melanoma metastases in the majority of the mice treated. In contrast, NKG2D CAR T cells were unable to control tumor growth or metastases. To translate CAR-MICA/B functionality into an off-the-shelf cancer immunotherapy, CAR-MICA/B was introduced into a clonal master engineered iPSC line to derive a multiplexed engineered, CAR-MICA/B iNK cell product candidate. Using a panel of tumor cell lines expressing MICA/B, CAR-MICA/B iNK cells displayed MICA specificity, resulting in enhanced cytokine production, degranulation, and cytotoxicity. Furthermore, in vivo NK cell cytotoxicity was evaluated using the B16-F10 melanoma cell line, engineered to express MICA. In this model, CAR-MICA/B iNK cells significantly reduced liver and lung metastases, compared to untreated controls, by 93% and 87% respectively.
Conclusions Ongoing work is focused on extending these preclinical studies to further support the clinical translation of an off-the-shelf, CAR-MICA/B iNK cell cancer immunotherapy with the potential to overcome solid tumor escape from NKG2D-mediated mechanisms of recognition and killing.
Ferrari de Andrade L, Tay RE, Pan D, Luoma AM, Ito Y, Badrinath S, Tsoucas D, Franz B, May KF Jr, Harvey CJ, Kobold S, Pyrdol JW, Yoon C, Yuan GC, Hodi FS, Dranoff G, Wucherpfennig KW. Antibody-mediated inhibition of MICA and MICB shedding promotes NK cell-driven tumor immunity. Science 2018 Mar 30;359(6383):1537–1542.
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