Background Cancer immunotherapy has been established as a new therapeutic category since the recent success of immune checkpoint inhibitors and a type of adoptive immunotherapy, namely chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells (CAR-T). Although CAR-T demonstrated impressive clinical results, serious adverse effects (cytokine storm and on-target off-tumor toxicity) and undefined efficacy on solid tumors are important issues to be solved. We’ve developed a cutting-edge, simple, and feeder-free method to generate highly activated and expanded human NK cells from peripheral blood (US9404083, PCT/JP2019/012744, PCT/JP2020/012386), and have been conducting further investigation why our new type of NK cells, named as GAIA-102, are so effective to kill malignant cells.
Methods Cryopreserved PBMCs purchased from vendors were mixed and processed by using LOVO and CliniMACS® Prodigy (automated/closed systems). CD3+ and CD34+ cells were depleted, and the cells were cultured with high concentration of hIL-2 and 5% UltraGRO® for 14 days in our original closed system. Then, we confirmed the expression of surface markers, CD107a mobilization and cell-mediated cytotoxicity against various tumor cells and normal cells with or without monoclonal antibody drugs in vitro and antitumor effects against peritoneal dissemination model using SKOV3 in vivo.
Results Importantly, we’ve found that our GAIA-102 exhibited CD3-/CD56bright/CD57- immature phenotype that could kill various tumor cells efficiently from various origins, including Raji cells that was highly resistant to NK cell killing. More importantly, massive accumulation, retention, infiltration and sphere destruction by GAIA-102 were affected neither by myeloid-derived suppressor cells nor regulatory T-lymphocytes. GAIA-102 was also effective in vivo to murine model of peritoneal dissemination of human ovarian cancer; thus, these findings indicate that GAIA-102 has a potential to be an ‘upward compatible’ modality over CAR-T strategy, and would be a new and promising candidate for adoptive immunotherapy against solid tumors.
Conclusions We now just started GMP/GCTP production of this new and powerful NK cells and first-in-human clinical trials in use of GAIA-102 will be initiated on 2021.
Ethics Approval The animal experiments were reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Kyushu University (approval nos. A30-234-0 and A30-359-0).
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