Background Although CAR T cells have been shown to be effective and potent in treating several hematologic malignancies, engineered T-cell therapies have had limited success in addressing solid tumors. Unlike liquid tumors where uniformly expressed antigens are accessible and can be effectively targeted, tumor access and antigen heterogeneity are a significant barrier to the successful development of CAR-T cells in solid tumors.
Methods Here we demonstrate that the combination of a bi-specific T-cell engager (BiTE) targeting EpCAM with a CAR T cell targeting HER2 enhances the in vitro and in vivo anti-tumor activity against heterogenous solid tumors.
Results We observed a dose-dependent enhancement of cytolytic activity when EpCAM-specific BiTEs were titrated alongside 4D5-based HER2-specific CAR T cells against HER2low tumors, enhancing maximal cytolysis by two-fold compared to CAR T cells alone (figure 1). Moreover, the escape of HER2low tumor cells in mixed heterogenous culture systems was circumvented by the combination of HER2-specific CAR T cells and EpCAM-specific BiTEs. The enhancement of efficacy was further demonstrated in an established HER2low MDA-MB-231 xenografts. HER2-specific CAR T cells were unable to contain Her2low tumors, whereas tumor growth was effectively controlled in mice receiving both EpCAM-specific BiTEs and HER2-specific CAR T cells.
Conclusions Collectively, these data demonstrate that multi-antigen targeting mediated by BiTEs and CARs extends overall anti-tumor efficacy in preclinical models of heterogenous solid tumors. Fate Therapeutics is currently using its proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) product platform to generate iPSC-derived CAR T cells and iPSC-derived CAR NK cells that secrete BiTEs for the treatment of solid tumors.
Ethics Approval These studies were approved by Fate Therapeutics Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and were carried out in accordance with the National Institutes of Health’s Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
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