Background Neoantigens are tumor-specific antigens that are important in the anti-tumor immune response. These antigens are not subject to central immune tolerance and are therefore potentially more immunogenic than tumor-associated antigens. NEO-STIM®, our propriety ex vivo induction process, was developed to generate T-cell products specific to these neoantigens from the peripheral blood of patient. Here, we present the results of a proof of concept, pre-clinical study with multiple successful process engineering runs generating a neoantigen-specific T-cell product (NEO-PTC-01) using leukaphereses from metastatic melanoma patients. These products contain specific T-cell responses targeting multiple neoantigens from each individual patient‘s tumor.
Methods Patient-specific neoantigens were predicted using our RECON® bioinformatics platform. Predicted high-quality neoantigens were utilized in our ex vivo stimulation protocol, NEO-STIM, in the process engineering runs of NEO-PTC-01. NEO-STIM is used to prime, activate and expand memory and de novo T-cell responses from both the CD4+ and the CD8+ compartment. High throughput flow cytometric analysis was performed to characterize the specificity and functionality (cytokine production and cytolytic capacity) of the induced T-cell responses.
Results Here we present the successful induction of 4–5 CD8+ and 4–7 CD4+ T-cell responses per patient, generated using peripheral blood mononuclear cells from multiple melanoma patients during these successful process engineering runs. We then extensively characterized these T-cell responses and demonstrate that these responses are functional, specific and have cytolytic capacity. Moreover, the induced T cells can recognize autologous tumor.
Conclusions NEO-STIM is a novel platform that generates ex vivo T-cell responses to high-quality neoantigen targets. NEO-PTC-01, the neoantigen-specific T cell product generated from this process, is a potent adoptive cell therapy targeting multiple immunogenic neoantigens in patients with metastatic melanoma.
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