Background Currently ~50% of patients with the diagnosis of high-risk neuroblastoma will not survive due to relapsing or refractory disease. Recent innovations in immunotherapy for solid tumors are highly promising, but the low MHC-I expression of neuroblastoma represents a major challenge for T cell-mediated immunotherapy. Here, we propose a novel T cell-based immunotherapy approach for neuroblastoma, based on the use of TEG002, αβ-T cells engineered to express a defined γδ-T cell receptor, which are thought to recognize and kill target cells independent of MHC-I. In this pilot project we have tested the potential efficacy of TEG002 therapy as a novel treatment for neuroblastoma, with tumor organoids.
Materials and Methods Effector cells were created from healthy donor peripheral blood T cells. The TEG002 cells were engineered by transducing αβ-T cells with a defined Vγ9Vδ2-T cell receptor. Both the untransduced αβ-T cells and the endogenous Vγ9Vδ2-T cells from the same healthy donor were used as controls in all experiments. Activation and killing of TEG002 was tested in a co-culture setting with neuroblastoma organoids. Supernatant of the co-culture was collected at 24 hours for IFNγ ELISA to measure activation of TEG002. The dynamics of cytotoxicity were analyzed over time from 0 till 72 hours, using the live-cell imaging system IncuCyte from Sartorius®. Killing was quantified using a Caspase3/7 Green dye and the IncuCyte software. Transcriptional profiling of the neuroblastoma organoids was done by RNA sequencing and MHC-I expression of the neuroblastoma organoids was determined by flow cytometry.
Results We showed that 3 out of 6 neuroblastoma organoids could activate TEG002 as measured by IFNγ production. Transcriptional profiling of the neuroblastoma organoids showed that this effect correlates with an increased activity of processes involved in interferon signaling and extracellular matrix organization. Analysis of the dynamics of organoid killing by TEG002 over time confirmed that organoids which induced TEG002 activation were efficiently killed independently of their MHC-I expression. Of note, efficacy of TEG002 treatment was superior to donor-matched untransduced αβ-T cells or endogenous γδ-T cells.
Conclusions We demonstrated that 50% of tested neuroblastoma organoids can effectively activate TEG002 and that killing of the organoids is independent of MHC-I expression. Hence, this pilot study identified TEG002 as a promising novel cellular product for immunotherapy for a subset of neuroblastoma tumors, warranting further investigations into its clinical application.
Disclosure Information J.G.M. Strijker: None. E. Drent: A. Employment (full or part-time); Significant; Gadeta BV. J.J.F. van der Hoek: None. R. Pscheid: A. Employment (full or part-time); Significant; Gadeta BV. B. Koopmans: None. K. Ober: None. S.R. van Hooff: None. W.M. Kholosy: None. C. Coomans: A. Employment (full or part-time); Significant; Gadeta BV. A. Bisso: A. Employment (full or part-time); Significant; Gadeta BV. M. van Loenen: A. Employment (full or part-time); Significant; Gadeta BV. J.J. Molenaar: None. J. Wienke: None.