Retrospective Analysis of Rechallenge with Ipilimumab in Patients with Metastatic Melanoma
BACKGROUND: Checkpoint inhibitors are effective in the treatment of several types of cancer, either being used separately or in combination. Ipilimumab pioneered the treatment of metastatic melanoma, and nowadays, it has been used more frequently in combination with anti-PD-1. Since the development of anti-PD1 for melanoma, rechallenge with ipilimumab has not been considered, although its use was considered in early trials. CASES: In this study, we analyzed 22 patients with metastatic melanoma who had benefited from the first treatment with ipilimumab, but eventually had progressive disease. They received ipilimumab at the same dose as the first treatment. Most of the patients received the second course after six months or more from the first treatment with ipilimumab. The median progression-free survival (mPFS) of the treatment with ipilimumab was 8.9 months, and the median progression-free survival of the second course was 6.3 months. CONCLUSION: There are limited data on rechallenge with ipilimumab addressing progression-free survival (PFS). In our analysis, twenty-two patients treated with a second course of ipilimumab were analyzed and most of them had a significant benefit. Despite the current alternatives for salvage therapies, rechallenging with ipilimumab might be an alternative to be considered in patients who had initial benefit.
Cell-autonomous inflammation of BRCA1-deficient ovarian cancers drives both tumor-intrinsic immunoreactivity and immune resistance via STING
In this study, we investigate mechanisms leading to inflammation and immunoreactivity in ovarian tumors with homologous recombination deficiency (HRD). BRCA1 loss is found to lead to transcriptional reprogramming in tumor cells and cell-intrinsic inflammation involving type I interferon (IFN) and stimulator of IFN genes (STING). BRCA1-mutated (BRCA1(mut)) tumors are thus T cell inflamed at baseline. Genetic deletion or methylation of DNA-sensing/IFN genes or CCL5 chemokine is identified as a potential mechanism to attenuate T cell inflammation. Alternatively, in BRCA1(mut) cancers retaining inflammation, STING upregulates VEGF-A, mediating immune resistance and tumor progression. Tumor-intrinsic STING elimination reduces neoangiogenesis, increases CD8(+) T cell infiltration, and reverts therapeutic resistance to dual immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). VEGF-A blockade phenocopies genetic STING loss and synergizes with ICB and/or poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors to control the outgrowth of Trp53(-/-)Brca1(-/-) but not Brca1(+/+) ovarian tumors in vivo, offering rational combinatorial therapies for HRD cancers.
Immunogenicity study of engineered ferritins with C- and N-terminus insertion of Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 1 epitope
Human ferritin heavy chain, an example of a protein nanoparticle, has recently been used as a vaccine delivery platform. Human ferritin has advantages of uniform architecture, robust thermal and chemical stabilities, and good biocompatibility and biodegradation. There is however a lack of understanding about the relationship between insertion sites in ferritin (N-terminus and C-terminus) and the corresponding humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. To bridge this gap, we utilized an Epstein-Barr Nuclear Antigen 1 (EBNA1) epitope as a model to produce engineered ferritin-based vaccines E1F1 (N-terminus insertion) and F1E1 (C-terminus insertion) for the prevention of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infections. X-ray crystallography confirmed the relative positions of the N-terminus insertion and C-terminus insertion. For N-terminus insertion, the epitopes were located on the exterior surface of ferritin, while for C-terminus insertion, the epitopes were inside the ferritin cage. Based on the results of antigen-specific antibody titers from in-vivo tests, we found that there was no obvious difference on humoral immune responses between N-terminus and C-terminus insertion. We also evaluated splenocyte proliferation and memory lymphocyte T cell differentiation. Both results suggested C-terminus insertion produced a stronger proliferative response and cell-mediated immune response than N-terminus insertion. C-terminus insertion of EBNA1 epitope was also processed more efficiently by dendritic cells (DCs) than N-terminus insertion. This provides new insight into the relationship between the insertion site and immunogenicity of ferritin nanoparticle vaccines.
CCL24 Signaling in the Tumor Microenvironment
Chemokines with their network play an important role in cancer growth, metastasis, and host-tumor interactions. Of many chemokines, C-C motif chemokine ligand 24 (CCL24) has been shown to contribute to tumorigenesis as well as inflammatory diseases like asthma, allergies, and eosinophilic esophagitis. CCL24 is expressed in some tumor cells such as colon cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, and cutaneous T cell lymphoma. CCL24 can be used as a potential biomarker in several cancers including colon cancer, non-small cell cancer, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma as the plasma level of CCL24 is increased. The various functions of CCL24 contribute to the biology of cancer by M2 macrophage polarization, angiogenesis, invasion and migration, and recruitment of eosinophils.
CXCL12 Signaling in the Tumor Microenvironment
Tumor microenvironment (TME) is the local environment of tumor, composed of tumor cells and blood vessels, extracellular matrix (ECM), immune cells, and metabolic and signaling molecules. Chemokines and their receptors play a fundamental role in the crosstalk between tumor cells and TME, regulating tumor-related angiogenesis, specific leukocyte infiltration, and activation of the immune response and directly influencing tumor cell growth, invasion, and cancer progression. The chemokine CXCL12 is a homeostatic chemokine that regulates physiological and pathological process such as inflammation, cell proliferation, and specific migration. CXCL12 activates CXCR4 and CXCR7 chemokine receptors, and the entire axis has been shown to be dysregulated in more than 20 different tumors. CXCL12 binding to CXCR4 triggers multiple signal transduction pathways that regulate intracellular calcium flux, chemotaxis, transcription, and cell survival. CXCR7 binds with high-affinity CXCL12 and with lower-affinity CXCL11, which binds also CXCR3. Although CXCR7 acts as a CXCL12 scavenger through ligand internalization and degradation, it transduces the signal mainly through _-arrestin with a pivotal role in endothelial and neural cells. Recent studies demonstrate that TME rich in CXCL12 leads to resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) therapy and that CXCL12 axis inhibitors sensitize resistant tumors to ICI effect. Thus targeting the CXCL12-mediated axis may control tumor and tumor microenvironment exerting an antitumor dual action. Herein CXCL12 physiology, role in cancer biology and in composite TME, prognostic role, and the relative inhibitors are addressed.
CXCL11 Signaling in the Tumor Microenvironment
CXCL11 which can bind to two different chemokine receptors, CXCR3 and CXCR7, has found a prominent place in current tumor research. In this chapter, we mainly discuss the current evidence on the role of the immune response of CXCL11 in tumor microenvironment (TME). The diverse functions of CXCL11 include inhibiting angiogenesis, affecting the proliferation of different cell types, playing a role in fibroblast directed carcinoma invasion, increasing adhesion properties, suppressing M2 macrophage polarization, and facilitating the migration of certain immune cells. In addition, we discussed the application of CXCL11 as an adjuvant to various mainstream anti-cancer therapies and the future challenges in the application of CXCL11 targeted therapies.
CCL2 in the Tumor Microenvironment
The C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) is a crucial mediator of immune cell recruitment during microbial infections and tissue damage. CCL2 is also frequently overexpressed in cancer cells and other cells in the tumor microenvironment, and a large body of evidence indicates that high CCL2 levels are associated with more aggressive malignancies, a higher probability of metastasis, and poorer outcomes in a wide range of cancers. CCL2 plays a role in recruiting tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), which adopt a pro-tumorigenic phenotype and support cancer cell survival, facilitate tumor cell invasion, and promote angiogenesis. CCL2 also has direct, TAM-independent effects on tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment, including recruitment of other myeloid subsets and non-myeloid cells, maintaining an immunosuppressive environment, stimulating tumor cell growth and motility, and promoting angiogenesis. CCL2 also plays important roles in the metastatic cascade, such as creating a pre-metastatic niche in distant organs and promoting tumor cell extravasation across endothelia. Due to its many roles in tumorigenesis and metastatic processes, the CCL2-CCR2 signaling axis is currently being pursued as a potential therapeutic target for cancer.
CCL25 Signaling in the Tumor Microenvironment
Multiple checkpoint mechanisms are overridden by cancer cells in order to develop into a tumor. Neoplastic cells, while constantly changing during the course of cancer progression, also craft their surroundings to meet their growing needs. This crafting involves changing cell surface receptors, affecting response to extracellular signals and secretion of signals that affect the nearby cells and extracellular matrix architecture. This chapter briefly comprehends the non-cancer cells facilitating the cancer growth and elaborates on the notable role of the CCR9-CCL25 chemokine axis in shaping the tumor microenvironment (TME), directly and via immune cells. Association of increased CCR9 and CCL25 levels in various tumors has demonstrated the significance of this axis as a tool commonly used by cancer to flourish. It is involved in attracting immune cells in the tumor and determining their fate via various direct and indirect mechanisms and, leaning the TME toward immunosuppressive state. Besides, elevated CCR9-CCL25 signaling allows survival and rapid proliferation of cancer cells in an otherwise repressive environment. It modulates the intra- and extracellular protein matrix to instigate tumor dissemination and creates a supportive metastatic niche at the secondary sites. Lastly, this chapter abridges the latest research efforts and challenges in using the CCR9-CCL25 axis as a cancer-specific target.
Characterization of neoantigen-specific T cells in cancer resistant to immune checkpoint therapies
Neoantigen-specific T cells are strongly implicated as being critical for effective immune checkpoint blockade treatment (ICB) (e.g., anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4) and are being targeted for vaccination-based therapies. However, ICB treatments show uneven responses between patients, and neoantigen vaccination efficiency has yet to be established. Here, we characterize neoantigen-specific CD8(+) T cells in a tumor that is resistant to ICB and neoantigen vaccination. Leveraging the use of mass cytometry combined with multiplex major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I tetramer staining, we screened and identified tumor neoantigen-specific CD8(+) T cells in the Lewis Lung carcinoma (LLC) tumor model (mRiok1). We observed an expansion of mRiok1-specific CD8(+) tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) after ICB targeting PD-1 or CTLA-4 with no sign of tumor regression. The expanded neoantigen-specific CD8(+) TILs remained phenotypically and functionally exhausted but displayed cytotoxic characteristics. When combining both ICB treatments, mRiok1-specific CD8(+) TILs showed a stem-like phenotype and a higher capacity to produce cytokines, but tumors did not show signs of regression. Furthermore, combining both ICB treatments with neoantigen vaccination did not induce tumor regression either despite neoantigen-specific CD8(+) TIL expansion. Overall, this work provides a model for studying neoantigens in an immunotherapy nonresponder model. We showed that a robust neoantigen-specific T-cell response in the LLC tumor model could fail in tumor response to ICB, which will have important implications in designing future immunotherapeutic strategies.
Siglec-6 is a novel target for CAR T-cell therapy in acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is attractive for the development of CAR T-cell immunotherapy because AML blasts are susceptible to T-cell-mediated elimination. Here, we introduce sialic-acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin (Siglec)-6 as a novel target for CAR T-cells in AML. We designed a Siglec-6-specific CAR with a targeting-domain derived from a human monoclonal antibody JML_1. We found that Siglec-6 is prevalently expressed on AML cell lines and primary AML blasts, including the subpopulation of AML stem cells. Treatment with Siglec-6-CAR T-cells confers specific anti-leukemia reactivity that correlates with Siglec-6-expression in pre-clinical models, including induction of complete remission in a xenograft AML model in immunodeficient mice (NSG/U937). In addition, we confirmed Siglec-6-expression on transformed B-cells in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and show specific anti-CLL-reactivity of Siglec-6-CAR T-cells in vitro. Of particular interest, we found that Siglec-6 is not detectable on normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSC/P) and that treatment with Siglec-6-CAR T-cells does not affect their viability and lineage differentiation in colony-formation assays. These data suggest that Siglec-6-CAR T-cell therapy may be used to effectively treat AML without a need for subsequent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. In mature normal hematopoietic cells, we detected Siglec-6 in a proportion of memory (and nave) B-cells and basophilic granulocytes, suggesting the potential for limited on-target/off-tumor reactivity. The lacking expression of Siglec-6 on normal HSC/P is a key differentiator from other Siglec-family members (e.g. Siglec-3=CD33) and other CAR target antigens, e.g. CD123, that are under investigation in AML and warrants the clinical investigation of Siglec-6-CAR T-cell therapy.