Article Text

Download PDFPDF

173 Expression of a membrane-tethered IL-15/IL-15 receptor fusion protein enhances the persistence of MSLN-targeted TRuC-T cells
  1. Michelle Fleury,
  2. Derrick McCarthy,
  3. Holly Horton,
  4. Courtney Anderson,
  5. Amy Watt,
  6. Adam Zieba,
  7. Lindsay Webb,
  8. Jian Ding,
  9. Robert Tighe,
  10. Robert Hofmeister and
  11. Dario Gutierrez
  1. TCR2 Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA, USA


Background Adoptive cell therapies have shown great promise in hematological malignancies but have yielded little progress in the context of solid tumors. We have developed T cell receptor fusion construct (TRuC®) T cells, which are equipped with an engineered T cell receptor that utilizes the full complement of TCR signaling subunits and recognizes tumor-associated antigens independent of HLA. In clinical trials, mesothelin (MSLN)-targeting TRuC-T cells (TC-210 or gavo-cel) have shown unprecedented results in patients suffering from advanced mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. To potentially increase the depth of response, we evaluated strategies that can promote intra-tumoral T cell persistence and function. Among the common ??-chain cytokines, IL-15 uniquely supports the differentiation and maintenance of memory T cell subsets by limiting terminal differentiation and conferring resistance to IL-2 mediated activation-induced cell death (AICD). In the studies described here, we evaluated the potential of IL-15 as an enhancement to TRuC-T cell phenotype, persistence and function against MSLN+ targets.

Methods Primary human T cells were activated and transduced with a lentiviral vector encoding an anti-MSLN binder fused to CD3ε alone or co-expressed with a membrane-tethered IL-15rα/IL-15 fusion protein (IL-15fu). Transduced T cells were expanded for 9 days and characterized for expression of the TRuC, IL-15rα and memory phenotype before subjecting them to in vitro functional assays to evaluate cytotoxicity, cytokine production, and persistence. In vivo efficacy was evaluated in MHC class I/II deficient NSG mice bearing human mesothelioma xenografts.

Results In vitro, co-expression of the IL-15fu led to similar cytotoxicity and cytokine production as TC-210, but notably enhanced T-cell expansion and persistence upon repeated stimulation with MSLN+ cell lines. Furthermore, the IL-15fu-enhanced TRuC-T cells sustained a significantly higher TCF-1+ population and retained a stem-like phenotype following activation. Moreover, the IL-15fu-enhanced TRuCs demonstrated robust in vivo expansion and intra-tumoral accumulation as measured by ex vivo analysis of TRuC+ cells in the tumor and blood, with a preferential expansion of CD8+ T cells. Finally, IL-15fu-enhanced TRuC-T cells could be observed in the blood long after the tumors were cleared.

Conclusions These pre-clinical studies suggest that the IL-15fu can synergize with TC-210 to increase the potency and durability of response in patients with MSLN+ tumors.

Ethics Approval All animal studies were approved by the respective Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.