Purpose: Adoptive T-cell immunotherapy with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes or genetically-modified T cells has yielded dramatic results in some cancers. However, T cells need to traffic properly into tumors to adequately exert therapeutic effects.
Experimental design: The chemokine CCL2 was highly secreted by malignant pleural mesotheliomas (MPM; a planned tumor target), but the corresponding chemokine receptor (CCR2) was minimally expressed on activated human T cells transduced with a chimeric antibody receptor (CAR) directed to the MPM tumor antigen mesothelin (mesoCAR T cells). The chemokine receptor CCR2b was thus transduced into mesoCAR T cells using a lentiviral vector, and the modified T cells were used to treat established mesothelin-expressing tumors.
Results: CCR2b transduction led to CCL2-induced calcium flux and increased transmigration, as well as augmentation of in vitro T-cell killing ability. A single intravenous injection of 20 million mesoCAR + CCR2b T cells into immunodeficient mice bearing large, established tumors (without any adjunct therapy) resulted in a 12.5-fold increase in T-cell tumor infiltration by day 5 compared with mesoCAR T cells. This was associated with significantly increased antitumor activity.
Conclusions: CAR T cells bearing a functional chemokine receptor can overcome the inadequate tumor localization that limits conventional CAR targeting strategies and can significantly improve antitumor efficacy in vivo.