Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology - Research Publications

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    Preclinical Evidence of the Efficacy of Lewis Y Car T Cells in Patient-Derived Models of Prostate Cancer
    Risbridger, GP ; Porter, LH ; Zhu, J ; Byrne, D ; Lister, N ; Azad, A ; Hofman, M ; Vela, I ; Taylor, RA ; Neeson, P ; Darcy, P ; Trapani, J (The Endocrine Society, 2021-05-03)
    Abstract Chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR T) cell therapy is an adoptive immunotherapy that has led to new treatments for lymphoma, leukemia, and other blood cancers; however, its efficacy for prostate cancer remains unproven. Here we report pre-clinical evidence of the efficacy of CAR T cell therapy against the Lewis Y antigen (LeY) using patient-derived models of prostate cancer. To assess the expression of LeY on prostate tumours, we performed immunohistochemistry on a cohort of 41 patient-derived xenografts (PDXs). Cytoplasmic and membrane expression were separately assessed and quantified, for each patient. Overall, 61% (25/41) of PDXs were positive for membrane LeY expression, of which 18 PDXs had greater than 50% membrane-positive cells, and considered most suitable to detection and stable binding by anti-LeY CAR T’s. To determine the in vitro sensitivity to CAR T cytotoxicity, we selected 4 PDXs with high and 2 PDXs with low LeY expression using 3 androgen receptor (AR)-positive adenocarcinomas and 3 AR-negative tumors expressing neuroendocrine markers. Next we established organoids for in vitro co-culture assays where organoids were co-incubated with an equal number of anti-LeY+ CAR T cells or Empty vector control CAR T cells (Ev CAR T). Using time-lapse microscopy we reported destruction of organoids by LeY+ CAR T cells as indicated by their morphological collapse and uptake of propidium iodide from the culture medium; control Ev CAR T cells produced no cytotoxicity. Over the 48h assay, the level of target cell death of the LeY+ organoids was correlated to the intensity LeY surface expression. Target cell death mediated by the CAR T cells required perforin and granzyme B, as potent and highly specific small molecule inhibitors of perforin (SN34960) and granzyme B (C20) applied alone or in combination greatly decreased PI uptake, indicating organoid survival. Neither inhibitor adversely affected CAR T cell viability as measured by PI and Annexin V staining. This demonstrated canonical activation of granule exocytosis pathway by the CAR T cells, leading to organoid cell death. To assess CAR T cell efficacy in vivo, we selected one PDX with high LeY expression. Monotherapy with CAR T cells failed to decrease tumour volume compared to vehicle control. However, CAR T cells given after a single dose of the chemotherapeutic agent carboplatin greatly and durably reduced tumour burden, with residual tumour mass being less than 1% of their original size (0.56 ± 0.23% of tumour volume at the start of treatment). Overall, these data provide preclinical evidence that: i) high membrane expression of LeY correlates with in vitro and in vivo CAR T cell-induced tumour cell death via the canonical perforin/granzyme B mechanism; and, ii) membrane LeY can be used as a biomarker for patient selection.
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    HIGH DOSE-RATE BRACHYTHERAPY OF LOCALIZED PROSTATE CANCER CONVERTS TUMORS FROM COLD TO HOT
    Keam, S ; Halse, H ; ThuNgoc, N ; Wang, M ; Losio, NVK ; Mitchell, C ; Caramia, F ; Byrne, D ; Haupt, S ; Ryland, G ; Darcy, P ; Sandhu, S ; Blombery, P ; Haupt, Y ; Williams, S ; Neeson, P (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-11-01)
    Background Prostate cancer is frequently cured with high dose-rate brachytherapy (HDRBT) radiation as a front-line treatment. Although considered to be an immune-excluded tissue, immune responses to radiation are implicated in driving tumour-eradication in prostate cancer.1 This has not been proven, and yet is used as the rationale for clinical trials combining radiation and immunotherapies.2 We hypothesise that there is a predictable relationship between radiation and the immune responses in prostate cancer that could be used to provide sound rationale for specific immune interventions in solid tumours that are made possible by radiation therapy. Methods We present here new results stemming from our recently published immunoprofiling study of world-unique pre- and post-radiation tissues from 24 prostate cancer patients (figure 1A), RadBank cohort).3 These samples were assessed using immune cell multiplex IHC, gene expression profiling, digital spatial profiling (DSP) and computational analysis of cell distribution. Results This study unequivocally revealed that high dose-rate radiation converts predominately ‘cold’ prostate tumour tissue to a more activated ‘hot’ state comprised of two sub-types (high and a less activated intermediate state). These changes were evident in increased tumour inflammation gene signatures and immune checkpoint expression, immune cell composition changes, and alterations in spatial interactions. However, as 20% of the patients did not respond, we also explored pre-treatment gene signatures of patient responses to radiation – identifying potential mechanisms that prime tissues to respond more favourably. Most recently, we have explored three other important facets of the immune response to HDRBT: (i) putative differential drivers of high and intermediate responses (figure 1B), (ii) TCR clonality changes (figure 1C), and (iii) the influence of clinical features (e.g. Gleason grade) and treatment (e.g. androgen deprivation) (figure 1D). Differential expression analysis has identified key molecules (e.g. CD40LG and Lck expression) which are associated with higher activation responses. TCR sequencing of pre- and post-HDRBT tissue and peripheral circulating cells is also suggestive of engagement of the adaptive immune system and the emergence of tumor-specific T cells. Finally, multivariate analysis has also revealed that higher grade tumours exhibit higher basal levels of activation and IC expression – making them less sensitive to immune activation by HDRBT. Abstract 580 Figure 1The effect of prostate brachytherapy on immune contexts(A) Study of immune response in 24 patients treated with HDRBT at Peter MacCallum Cancer Center ((DOI:10.1136/jitc2020-000792). Examples of new insights including (B) molecules associated with higher activation levels (e.g. Lck and CD40LG/CD154), (C) changes in T cell receptor dominance and diversity in tissue and peripheral circulation, and (D) effects of clinical attributes on immune modulators (e.g. TGFbeta) and TIS activation states. Conclusions We have begun to resolve clear patient and clinical classifiers based on immune responses to radiation, and identified patient groups likely to benefit from immune therapy alongside radiation. Importantly, these classifications are associated with baseline gene expression profiles that may be used for pre-clinical stratification and more sophisticated treatment paradigms. Ethics Approval All participants provided consent covering tissue research as part of a prospective tissue collection study for prostate radiobiology research, approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (PMCC; HREC approvals 10/68, 13/167, 18/204). Consent Written informed consent was obtained from the patient for publication of this abstract and any accompanying images. A copy of the written consent is available for review by the Editor of this journal. References Dudzinski SO, et al., Combination immunotherapy and radiotherapy causes an abscopal treatment response in a mouse model of castration resistant prostate cancer. J Immunother Cancer 2019. 7(1): p. 218. Kwon E.D., et al., Ipilimumab versus placebo after radiotherapy in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer that had progressed after docetaxel chemotherapy (CA184-043): a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, phase 3 trial. Lancet Oncol 2014;15(7): p. 700–12. Keam SP, et al., High dose-rate brachytherapy of localized prostate cancer converts tumors from cold to hot. J Immunother Cancer 2020;8(1).
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    NOVEL COMBINATION IMMUNOTHERAPY FOR BOOSTING AND PRIMING IMMUNE RESPONSES IN PANCREATIC CANCER: STRONG ANTI-TUMOUR EFFECTS WITH INTERLEUKIN-15 AND CD40 AGONIST TREATMENT
    Van Audenaerde, J ; Marcq, E ; von Scheidt, B ; Davey, A ; Oliver, A ; De Waele, J ; Quatannens, D ; Van Loenhout, J ; Pauwels, P ; Roeyen, G ; Lardon, F ; Slaney, C ; Peeters, M ; Kershaw, M ; Darcy, P ; Smits, E (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-11-01)
    Background With the poorest 5-year survival of all cancers, improving treatment for pancreatic cancer is one of the biggest challenges in cancer research. In this era of combination immunotherapies, we sought to explore the potential of combining both priming and activation of the immune system. To achieve this, we combined a CD40 agonist with interleukin-15 and tested its potential in pancreatic cancer. Methods Two different mouse models of pancreatic cancer were used to assess the potential of this combination regimen. Therefore, effects on tumour growth kinetics and survival were charted. Differential effects on immune signatures was investigated using RNA sequencing. Functional immune subset involvement was tested using different immune depletion experiments and multicolour flow cytometry in different relevant immune sites. Immune memory was checked using re-challenge experiments. Results We demonstrated profound reduction in tumour growth and increased survival of mice with the majority of mice being cured when both agents were combined, including an unprecedented dose reduction of CD40 agonist without losing any efficacy (fig 1). RNA sequencing analysis showed involvement of natural killer cell and T cell mediated anti-tumour responses and the importance of antigen-presenting cell pathways. This combination resulted in enhanced infiltration of tumours by both cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells, as well as a striking increase in the ratio of CD8+ T cells over T regulatory cells. We also observed a significant increase in numbers of dendritic cells in tumour draining lymph nodes, particularly CD103+ dendritic cells with cross-presentation potential. A critical role for CD8+ T cells and involvement of natural killer cells in the anti-tumour effect was highlighted. Importantly, strong immune memory was established, with an increase in memory CD8+ T cells only when both interleukin-15 and the CD40 agonist were combined. Abstract 453 Figure 1Tumour kinetics and survival in Panc02 (left) and KPC (right) pancreatic cancer mouse models Conclusions We demonstrated profound synergistic anti-tumour effects upon combination of CD40 agonist and interleukin-15 treatment in mouse models of pancreatic cancer. This preclinical data supports initiation of a first-in-human clinical trial with this combination immunotherapy strategy in pancreatic cancer.
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    EARLY-PHENOTYPE LEWIS Y CAR-T CELLS PERSIST BETTER IN VIVO AND INDUCE SOLID TUMOR REGRESSION IN COMBINATION WITH ANTI-PD1
    Meyran, D ; Zhu, J ; Butler, J ; Macdonald, S ; Tantalo, D ; Thio, N ; Sek, K ; Ekert, P ; Kershaw, M ; Trapani, J ; Darcy, P ; Neeson, P (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-11-01)
    Background Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) cells are a promising new therapy for patients with cancer. However, in contrast to their success in B cell malignancies, CAR-T cells targeting solid cancers have had limited success so far due to their poor proliferation and poor long-term persistence in vivo. To address this issue, we used naïve T cells to generate second-generation CAR-T cells recognizing the tumor antigen Lewis Y (LeY), termed ‘early’ CAR-T cells. Methods Purified naïve T cells were activated by CD3/CD28 soluble tetrameric antibody complex, retrovirally transduced (LeY scFv-CD3z-CD28 CAR) and expanded in IL-7/IL-15. The early LeY CAR-T cell function was tested in vitro for cytotoxicity (Cr-release and degranulation), proliferation, and cytokine secretion by CBA, either de novo or following chronic stimulation for 1 month. Finally, early CAR-T cell persistence and anti-tumor efficacy was assessed in the OVCAR3-NSG model, in the presence or absence of anti-PD-1. Results The early-CAR-T cells comprised stem cell memory-like (CD95+, CD62L+, CD45RA+) and central memory phenotype (CD95+, CD62L+, CD45RA-) T cells with increased expression of ICOS, Ki67, TCF7 and CD27 (Figure 1). The early-CAR-T cells retained potent antigen-specific cytotoxicity, and secreted significantly higher levels of cytokines (IFN-?, TNF-a and IL-2) and increased proliferation compared to conventional CAR-T cells. Importantly, early-CAR-T cells had a significantly higher proliferative capacity after long-term chronic stimulation compared to conventional CAR-T cells (figure 2), and CD4+ CAR-T cells were critical for effective early CD8+ CAR-T cell proliferation capacity in vitro (figure 3). Early CAR-T cells had significantly better in vivo tumor control compared to conventional CAR-T cells (Figure 4), this was associated with increased CAR-T cell persistence. Because chronically stimulated early-LeY-CAR-T cells expressed PD-1 (figure 2), and OVCAR-3 cells expressed PD-L1 when co-cultured with LeY-CAR-T cells (figure 5), we combined early LeY-CAR-T cells with anti-PD-1 therapy and observed complete tumour regression in these mice. Interestingly, early LeY-CAR-T cell plus anti-PD-1 treatment also enhanced the percentage of circulating stem-cell memory like CAR-T cells in vivo (figure 5). Abstract 126 Figure 1Early-CAR-T protocol, including Naïve-T cells purification and expansion in IL-7 and IL-15 promotes the maintenance of a TSCM and TCM phenotype. A) Scheme of the 7-day production protocol for Early-CAR-T cells. B) Phenotype by FACs of the conventional CAR-T cells and the Early-CAR-T cells. Pooled data in triplicate for 6 donors. C) Phenotype by Mass cytometry comparing the Conventional-CAR-T cells vs Early-CAR-T cells vs Early-CD8-CAR-T cells. Data for one donor representative of 3 different donors Abstract 126 Figure 2Early-CAR-T cells are comparable in vitro to conventional CAR-T cells in terms of killing but have a better proliferation capacity that persists after chronic stimulation. The long-term stimulated early- CAR-T cells maintain their memory phenotype and upregulated PD-1. A) Chromium release assay against the LeY+ cell line (OVCAR3), data for one donor representative of 3 other donors. B) Cytokine secretion evaluated by CBA after coculture with the LeY+ cell line (OVCAR3) or with the LeY- cell line (MDA-MB435). C) Division index of CAR-T cells quantified with CTV. D) Evaluation of the differentiation, proliferation and cytotoxicity of the CAR-T cells after chronic stimulation Abstract 126 Figure 3Early-CD4+- CAR-T cells are critical for the proliferation capacity of the Early-CD8+-CAR-T cells. A) Scheme of the CD4-depletion protocol to compare Early-CD8-CAR-T proliferation with or without CD4-T cells. B) Division index of CD4-depleted Early-CAR-T cells, CD8-T cells from bulk Early-CAR-T cells, and from CD4+ T cells from bulk Early-CAR-T-cells quantified with CTV Abstract 126 Figure 4Early-CAR-T cells show in vivo a better persistence and a better proliferation capacity associated with a better tumoral control. A) Design of the in vivo experiment (n=7 mice per group) B) T-cell persistence in peripheral blood was measured by FACS. C) Speakman correlation (Day 13) between Tumor size and% CAR-T- cells. D) Tumor kinetic and Kaplan-Meier analysis of survival of OVCAR-bearing NSG mice treated with Conventional CAR-T cells, or Early-CAR-T cells or Low-dose of Early-CAR-T cells Abstract 126 Figure 5Anti-PD1 treatment enhance the efficacy of the Early-CAR-T cells. A) Upregulation of PD-L1 on OVCAR3 when expanded in the supernatant from co-culture of OVCAR3 with LeY-CAR-T cells. B) Design of the in vivo experiment (n=7 mice per group). C) T-cell persistence, phenotype and anti-human IgG4 in peripheral blood were measured by FACS. D) Tumor kinetic of OVCAR-bearing NSG mice treated with Early-CAR-T cells or Early-CAR-T cells + Nivolumab Conclusions Our early CAR-T cells have better cytokine secretion and proliferation than conventional CAR-T cells. Early CAR-T cells also have superior anti-tumor efficacy in vivo, they have better persistence and maintain the circulating T cell memory pool. Importantly, low dose early-LeY-CAR-T cells combined with anti-PD1-treatment leads to complete clearance of LeY+ solid tumors in vivo. The early CAR-T cell production protocol is directly translatable for improving CAR-T cell efficacy in clinical trials for patients with solid tumors.