Combining TIL and CAR for adoptive cell therapy in metastatic melanoma
AuthorMills, Jane Kathleen
AffiliationSurgery (St Vincent's)
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2021-10-16.
© 2019 Jane Kathleen Mills
Background Metastatic melanoma is a highly lethal disease, and until recently patients had limited therapeutic options. Knowledge and understanding of the role the immune system plays in tumour development and its therapeutic potential has recently gained momentum and immunotherapeutic agents have emerged as the gold standard of therapy in treating this cancer. Adoptive cell therapy (ACT) has been shown to have high rates of tumour regression with durable, complete responses and potential 'cure'. Tumour-infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL) and Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) therapies are examples of ACT. Each has their own advantages, limitations and toxicities. As the complexity of the immune system and its targets is increasingly appreciated, combining immunotherapies is emerging as a promising avenue for improving patient oncological outcomes. This project explores the efficacy of dual specific T cells by combining TIL and CAR therapies. Aim To establish a model system transducing TIL with anti-Her2 CAR (TIL-CAR) and assessing function against autologous melanoma tumour cells that express Her2 antigen. Method TIL were generated from patient derived metastatic melanoma tumours and tumour cell lines were established in a biobank. TIL were thawed and activated using CD3/28 beads and transduced with second generation anti-Her2 CAR (scFv-erbB2-CD28-zeta) using a retronectin protocol. Patient matched PBMCs were transduced for functional comparison. Melanoma tumour lines in the biobank were found to innately express Her2 antigen to varying degrees. Some melanoma tumour lines were transduced and sorted to create higher expressing Her2 antigen lines for functional comparison. Flow cytometry was used to confirm cell phenotype and antigen/CAR expression. Functional testing was performed using ELISA and chromium release assays. An in vivo ACT model in NSG mice was performed comparing TIL and TIL-CAR. Results TIL were successfully cultured from metastatic melanoma tumour pieces. Despite TIL proliferating at lower rates than PBMCs, both were successfully transduced to express anti-Her2 CAR. When TIL were transduced to express anti-Her2 CAR they were functionally active through both TCR and CAR and produced greater amounts of interferon gamma against Her2 expressing tumour lines. TIL-CAR had greater cytotoxic activity when cultured against autologous melanoma tumour lines, but the benefit transduced TIL over PBMCs varied in response between tested patients. The advantage of TIL-CAR over PBMC-CAR did not demonstrate consistent trends across this limited group of patients. The functional activity may be influenced by the level of Her2 expression in the co-cultured tumour cells as well as by the phenotype of T cell populations. Results of an in vivo pilot study in mice demonstrated reduction in tumour size when TIL-CAR were used in an ACT protocol. The primary limitation of this study was the low proliferation rate of TIL following transduction which required extended periods in culture. Conclusions Combination of TIL-CAR is a novel concept. TIL can be transduced to express anti-Her2 CAR. Metastatic melanoma cells in our biobank constitutively express Her2 antigen. TIL-CAR tend to show greater activity in interferon gamma and cytotoxic functions compared to parental (non-transduced) TIL when cultured against Her2 expressing tumour lines. When compared to the activity of PBMCs transduced with the same CAR the additional benefit conferred by TIL-CAR is inconsistent. Protocols would benefit from further optimisation to generate a 'younger' phenotype capable of more rapid and sustainable proliferative potential and facilitate earlier delivery of therapy if used in a clinical setting.
Keywordsmelanoma; metastatic; adoptive cell therapy; ACT; chimeric antigen receptor; CAR; immunotherapy
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