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- Vaccination directed against the human endogenous retrovirus-K envelope protein inhibits tumor growth in a murine model system (2013)
- Human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) genomes are chromosomally integrated in all cells of an individual. They are normally transcriptionally silenced and transmitted only vertically. Enhanced expression of HERV-K accompanied by the emergence of anti-HERV-K-directed immune responses has been observed in tumor patients and HIV-infected individuals. As HERV-K is usually not expressed and immunological tolerance development is unlikely, it is an appropriate target for the development of immunotherapies. We generated a recombinant vaccinia virus (MVA-HKenv) expressing the HERV-K envelope glycoprotein (ENV), based on the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), and established an animal model to test its vaccination efficacy. Murine renal carcinoma cells (Renca) were genetically altered to express E. coli beta-galactosidase (RLZ cells) or the HERV-K ENV gene (RLZ-HKenv cells). Intravenous injection of RLZ-HKenv cells into syngenic BALB/c mice led to the formation of pulmonary metastases, which were detectable by X-gal staining. A single vaccination of tumor-bearing mice with MVA-HKenv drastically reduced the number of pulmonary RLZ-HKenv tumor nodules compared to vaccination with wild-type MVA. Prophylactic vaccination of mice with MVA-HKenv precluded the formation of RLZ-HKenv tumor nodules, whereas wild-type MVA-vaccinated animals succumbed to metastasis. Protection from tumor formation correlated with enhanced HERV-K ENV-specific killing activity of splenocytes. These data demonstrate for the first time that HERV-K ENV is a useful target for vaccine development and might offer new treatment opportunities for diverse types of cancer.
- Phase I clinical study of the recombinant antibody toxin scFv(FRP5)-ETA specific for the ErbB2/HER2 receptor in patients with advanced solid malignomas (2005)
- Introduction: ScFv(FRP5)-ETA is a recombinant antibody toxin with binding specificity for ErbB2 (HER2). It consists of an N-terminal single-chain antibody fragment (scFv), genetically linked to truncated Pseudomonas exotoxin A (ETA). Potent antitumoral activity of scFv(FRP5)-ETA against ErbB2-overexpressing tumor cells was previously demonstrated in vitro and in animal models. Here we report the first systemic application of scFv(FRP5)-ETA in human cancer patients. Methods: We have performed a phase I dose-finding study, with the objective to assess the maximum tolerated dose and the dose-limiting toxicity of intravenously injected scFv(FRP5)-ETA. Eighteen patients suffering from ErbB2-expressing metastatic breast cancers, prostate cancers, head and neck cancer, non small cell lung cancer, or transitional cell carcinoma were treated. Dose levels of 2, 4, 10, 12.5, and 20 μg/kg scFv(FRP5)-ETA were administered as five daily infusions each for two consecutive weeks. Results: No hematologic, renal, and/or cardiovascular toxicities were noted in any of the patients treated. However, transient elevation of liver enzymes was observed, and considered dose limiting, in one of six patients at the maximum tolerated dose of 12.5 μg/kg, and in two of three patients at 20 μg/kg. Fifteen minutes after injection, peak concentrations of more than 100 ng/ml scFv(FRP5)-ETA were obtained at a dose of 10 μg/kg, indicating that predicted therapeutic levels of the recombinant protein can be applied without inducing toxic side effects. Induction of antibodies against scFv(FRP5)-ETA was observed 8 days after initiation of therapy in 13 patients investigated, but only in five of these patients could neutralizing activity be detected. Two patients showed stable disease and in three patients clinical signs of activity in terms of signs and symptoms were observed (all treated at doses ≥ 10 μg/kg). Disease progression occurred in 11 of the patients. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that systemic therapy with scFv(FRP5)-ETA can be safely administered up to a maximum tolerated dose of 12.5 μg/kg in patients with ErbB2-expressing tumors, justifying further clinical development.
- Maltose-binding protein enhances secretion of recombinant human granzyme B accompanied by in vivo processing of a precursor MBP fusion protein (2010)
- Background: The apoptosis-inducing serine protease granzyme B (GrB) is an important factor contributing to lysis of target cells by cytotoxic lymphocytes. Expression of enzymatically active GrB in recombinant form is a prerequisite for functional analysis and application of GrB for therapeutic purposes. Methods and Findings: We investigated the influence of bacterial maltose-binding protein (MBP) fused to GrB via a synthetic furin recognition motif on the expression of the MBP fusion protein also containing an N-terminal alpha-factor signal peptide in the yeast Pichia pastoris. MBP markedly enhanced the amount of GrB secreted into culture supernatant, which was not the case when GrB was fused to GST. MBP-GrB fusion protein was cleaved during secretion by an endogenous furin-like proteolytic activity in vivo, liberating enzymatically active GrB without the need of subsequent in vitro processing. Similar results were obtained upon expression of a recombinant fragment of the ErbB2/HER2 receptor protein or GST as MBP fusions. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that combination of MBP as a solubility enhancer with specific in vivo cleavage augments secretion of processed and functionally active proteins from yeast. This strategy may be generally applicable to improve folding and increase yields of recombinant proteins.
- ErbB2/HER2-specific NK cells for adoptive cancer immunotherapy (2013)
- Poster presentation: 28th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Significant progress has been made over the last decade towards realizing the potential of natural killer (NK) cells for cancer immunotherapy. NK cells can respond rapidly to transformed and stressed cells, and have the intrinsic potential to extravasate and reach their targets in almost all body tissues. In addition to donor-derived primary NK cells, also continuously expanding cytotoxic cell lines such as NK-92 are being considered for adoptive cancer immunotherapy. High cytotoxicity of NK-92 has previously been shown against malignant cells of hematologic origin in preclinical studies, and general safety of infusion of NK-92 cells has been established in phase I clinical trials. To enhance their therapeutic utility, we genetically modified NK-92 cells to express chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) specific for tumor-associated surface antigens. Such CAR were composed of a tumor-specific scFv antibody fragment fused via hinge and transmembrane domains to intracellular signaling moieties such as CD3 zeta chain, or composite fusion molecules also containing a costimulatory protein domain in addition to CD3 zeta. For development towards clinical applications, here a codon-optimized second generation CAR was constructed that consists of an ErbB2-specific scFv antibody domain fused via a linker to a composite CD28-CD3 zeta signaling domain. GMP-compliant protocols for vector production, lentiviral transduction and expansion of a genetically modified NK-92 single cell clone (NK-92/5.28.z) were established. Functional analysis of NK-92/5.28.z cells revealed high and stable CAR expression, selective cytotoxicity against ErbB2-expressing but otherwise NK-resistant tumor cells of different origins in vitro, as well as homing to ErbB2-expressing tumors in vivo. Furthermore, antigen specificity and selective cytotoxicity of these cells were retained in vivo, resulting in antitumoral activity against subcutaneous and intracranial glioblastoma xenografts in NSG mice. Ongoing work now focuses on the development of these cells for adoptive immunotherapy of ErbB2-positive glioblastoma.
- EGFR-targeted granzyme B expressed in NK cells enhances natural cytotoxicity and mediates specific killing of tumor cells (2013)
- Natural killer (NK) cells are highly specialized effectors of the innate immune system that hold promise for adoptive cancer immunotherapy. Their cell killing activity is primarily mediated by the pro-apoptotic serine protease granzyme B (GrB), which enters targets cells with the help of the pore-forming protein perforin. We investigated expression of a chimeric GrB fusion protein in NK cells as a means to augment their antitumoral activity. For selective targeting to tumor cells, we fused the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) peptide ligand transforming growth factor α (TGFα) to human pre-pro-GrB. Established human NKL natural killer cells transduced with a lentiviral vector expressed this GrB-TGFα (GrB-T) molecule in amounts comparable to endogenous wildtype GrB. Activation of the genetically modified NK cells by cognate target cells resulted in the release of GrB-T together with endogenous granzymes and perforin, which augmented the effector cells' natural cytotoxicity against NK-sensitive tumor cells. Likewise, GrB-T was released into the extracellular space upon induction of degranulation with PMA and ionomycin. Secreted GrB-T fusion protein displayed specific binding to EGFR-overexpressing tumor cells, enzymatic activity, and selective target cell killing in the presence of an endosomolytic activity. Our data demonstrate that ectopic expression of a targeted GrB fusion protein in NK cells is feasible and can enhance antitumoral activity of the effector cells.
- Cytotoxic capacity of IL-15-stimulated cytokine-induced killer cells against human acute myeloid leukemia and rhabdomyosarcoma in humanized preclinical mouse models (2012)
- Allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) has become an important treatment modality for patients with high-risk acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is also under investigation for soft tissue sarcomas. The therapeutic success is still limited by minimal residual disease (MRD) status ultimately leading to patients’ relapse. Adoptive donor lymphocyte infusions based on MRD status using IL-15-expanded cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells may prevent relapse without causing graft-versus-host-disease (GvHD). To generate preclinical data we developed mouse models to study anti-leukemic- and anti-tumor-potential of CIK cells in vivo. Immunodeficient mice (NOD/SCID/IL-2Rγc−, NSG) were injected intravenously with human leukemic cell lines THP-1, SH-2 and with human rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) cell lines RH41 and RH30 at minimal doses required for leukemia or tumor engraftment. Mice transplanted with THP-1 or RH41 cells were randomly assigned for analysis of CIK cell treatment. Organs of mice were analyzed by flow cytometry as well as quantitative polymerase chain reaction for engraftment of malignant cells and CIK cells. Potential of CIK cells to induce GvHD was determined by histological analysis. Tissues of the highest degree of THP-1 cell expansion included bone marrow followed by liver, lung, spleen, peripheral blood (PB), and brain. RH30 and RH41 engraftment mainly took place in liver and lung, but was also detectable in spleen and PB. In spite of delayed CIK cell expansion compared with malignant cells, CIK cells injected at equal amounts were sufficient for significant reduction of RH41 cells, whereas against fast-expanding THP-1 cells 250 times more CIK than THP-1 cells were needed to achieve comparable results. Our preclinical in vivo mouse models showed a reliable 100% engraftment of malignant cells which is essential for analysis of anti-cancer therapy. Furthermore our data demonstrated that IL-15-activated CIK cells have potent cytotoxic capacity against AML and RMS cells without causing GvHD.
- Correction: Phase I clinical study of the recombinant antibody-toxin scFv(FRP5)-ETA specific for the ErbB2/HER2 receptor in patients with advanced solid malignomas (2006)
- Following publication of the data presented by von Minckwitz and colleagues  it has been brought to our attention that some patients should be scored differently. Stable disease was seen in three of the eighteen patients instead of two of the eighteen patients: one patient with transitional cell carcinoma treated at 4 micro g/kg scFv(FRP5)-ETA per day, and two breast cancer patients treated at 4 and 12.5 micro g/kg scFv(FRP5)-ETA per day. Disease progression occured in 9 of the eighteen patients evaluated (see corrected Table 2 overleaf). This does not affect the conclusions of our study. In addition we would like to correct the following errors: patient IDs for patients U01 and U02 in the original Table 2 were interchanged. In addition, patient N03 had a grade 3 elevation of gamma-glutamyl transferase, and not grade 2 (see corrected Table 2 overleaf). http://publikationen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/volltexte/2005/1156/
- Chimeric carrier proteins for targeted delivery of tumor antigens to professional antigen presenting cells (2004)
- Tumor-specific T lymphocytes can be regarded as a highly effective mechanism for tumor rejection. A substantial number of T-cell defined tumor antigens including mutated oncoproteins and differentiation antigens have been identified. However, while most spontaneous tumors appear to be antigenic, few are immunogenic. Activation of tumor-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTL) requires presentation of tumor antigens by professional antigen presenting cells (APCs) via MHC I molecules. Due to their crucial role in T-cell activation, APCs are being exploited for active cancer immunotherapy. Present experimental strategies include the incubation of dendritic cells with synthetic, tumor specific peptides to achieve uptake of tumor antigens and presentation in the context of MHC molecules. Alternatively, gene therapeutic approaches are aimed at the endogenous expression of tumor antigens in APCs upon transfer of suitable vector constructs. Our strategy for the presentation of tumor antigens by APCs is based on the intracellular delivery of tumor antigens as part of a fusion protein specifically targeted to APC cell surface receptors. We have constructed prototype molecules that contain a soluble fragment of CTLA-4 for cell binding via interaction with B7 molecules, genetically fused to a protein fragment derived from the tumor-associated antigen ErbB2. To improve uptake and direct the antigenic determinant preferentially to the MHC class I pathway, in one of these protein vaccines also the translocation domain of the bacterial Pseudomonas exotoxin A has been included. In the parental toxin this protein domain facilitates escape from the endosomal compartment to the cytosol upon receptor mediated endocytosis. Here we have investigated the in vitro cell binding activity of such reagents and their antitumoral activity in immunocompetent murine model systems. Specific binding to B7 molecules and uptake of bacterially expressed protein vaccines could be demonstrated. Ex vivo restimulation with an ErbB2-derived peptide of splenocytes from Balb/c mice injected with the fusion proteins resulted in enhanced IFN-gamma production by T cells. Protective and therapeutic effects of ErbB2 protein vaccines were also investigated. Vaccinated animals were protected against subsequent challenge with syngeneic ErbB2 expressing tumor cells. Likewise, s.c. injection of ErbB2 protein vaccines in the vicinity of established tumors resulted in tumor rejection and long lasting protection indicating that immunological memory was induced. Our results suggest that chimeric proteins combining a tumor antigen and specific recognition of APCs in a single molecule are suitable for targeted delivery of antigens to professional APCs and might become valuable tools for cancer immunotherapy.
- Bispecific costimulatory molecules for activation of tumor-killing lymphocytes (2004)
- The receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB2 (HER2) is overexpressed in multiple human tumors of epithelial origin. High ErbB2 expression is functionally involved in tumorigenesis and correlates with poor clinical prognosis. For immunotherapy of ErbB2 expressing tumors, we developed a strategy to supply the tumor cells with costimulatory activity. A bispecific fusion protein was constructed (BIg5), containing the IgV-like domain of huCD86, the CH2/CH3 domain of huIgG1 and the ErbB2-specific single chain antibody fragment scFv(FRP5). A similar fusion protein lacking the CD86 domain (Ig5) was used as a control. Upon binding of BIg5 to ErbB2 on tumor cells, these cells display CD86 on their surface and thus can deliver costimulatory signals for T-cell activation. In addition, NK cells could be activated by CD86 binding to CD28. BIg5 is secreted by eukaryotic cells as a homodimer with increased stability compared to monomers and possibly enhanced costimulatory activity due to crosslinking of CD28 on effector cells. By FACS analysis, specific binding of the scFv(FRP5) domain to ErbB2 as well as CD86 IgV binding to CTLA-4 could be demonstrated. Together with anti-CD3 antibody, BIg5 stimulates proliferation of human CD2-purified lymphocytes in vitro. After binding to ErbB2 on murine Renca-lacZ/ErbB2 tumor cells, about 50% of initially bound BIg5 is still present on the cell surface after 4 hours. For delivery of chimeric fusion proteins in vivo, we used syngeneic, stably transfected HC11 mammary epithelial cells continuously secreting the proteins. Inoculation of these bystander cells close to subcutaneously growing Renca-lacZ/ErbB2 tumors should provide a long-lasting source to achieve high local concentrations of BIg5 at the tumor site. In vivo HC11-BIg5 cells proved to be non-tumorigenic and secreted BIg5 for several weeks, causing a strong anti-BIg5 antibody response. Treatment of established Renca-lacZ/ErbB2 or ErbB2-negative Renca-lacZ tumors by peritumoral inoculation of either HC11-BIg5 or HC11-Ig5 cells led to rejection of all Renca-lacZ/ErbB2, but none of the Renca-lacZ tumors. HC11neo control cells had no effect on tumor growth. Rejection of ErbB2+ tumors led to long-term protection also against subsequent challenge with intravenously injected ErbB2- tumor cells. Intraperitoneal injection of bystander cells secreting the fusion proteins did not lead to tumor regression suggesting that high local concentrations at the tumor site are necessary to target ErbB2 on tumor cells and to overcome elimination of BIg5 or Ig5 by neutralizing antibodies. The CD86 IgV domain of BIg5 did not play a major role in the observed antitumoral immune response suggesting NK-cell mediated ADCC as the initial effector mechanism followed by activation of tumor specific T cells. Targeting of ErbB2 on tumor cells with antibody fusion proteins that interact specifically with the host immune system could be an efficient and specific approach for therapy of solid ErbB2+ tumors.