Immunocytokines (ICKs) targeting cytokines to the tumor environment using antibodies directed against a tumor-associated antigen often have a higher therapeutic index than the corresponding unconjugated cytokines. Various ICKs displaying significant antitumoral effects in several murine tumor models have already been developed, and some of them, in particular interleukin (IL)-2-based ICKs, are in Phase II clinical trials. Although sharing common biological activities with IL-2 in vitro, IL-15 is now considered as having a better potential in antitumor immunotherapeutical strategies and has been shown to be less toxic than IL-2 in preclinical studies. We previously developed the fusion protein RLI, linking a soluble form of human IL-15Rα-sushi+ domain to human IL-15. RLI showed better biological activities than IL-15 in vitro as well as higher antitumoral effects in vivo in murine and human cancer models. Here, we investigated, in the context of an ICK, the effect of associating RLI with an antibody targeting the GD2 ganglioside, a validated tumoral target expressed on many neurectodermal tumors. Anti-GD2-RLI fully retained the cytokine potential of RLI and the antibody effector functions (antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and complement-dependent cytotoxicity). It displayed strong antitumor activities in two syngeneic cancer models in immunocompetent mice (subcutaneous EL4 and metastatic NXS2). Its therapeutic potency was higher than those of RLI and anti-GD2 alone or in combination. We suggest that this is related to its bifunctional (cytokine and antibody) nature.
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