Preclinical studies with recombinant murine interleukin 4 (IL4) in models of cancer have shown potent tumor growth inhibition. However, systemic administration of human IL4 to cancer patients exhibited modest antitumor activity and considerable toxicities. To improve the therapeutic index and reduce side effects of this cytokine, we developed of a novel "immunocytokine" based on sequential fusion of murine IL4 with the antibody fragment F8 (specific to the alternatively spliced extra-domain A of fibronectin, a marker for tumor-angiogenesis) in diabody format. The resulting fusion protein, termed F8-IL4, retained full antigen-binding activity and cytokine bioactivity and was able to selectively localize on solid tumors in vivo. When used as single agent, F8-IL4 inhibited tumor growth in three different immunocompetent murine cancer models (F9 teratocarcinoma, CT26 colon carcinoma and A20 lymphoma). Furthermore, F8-IL4 showed synergistic effects when coadministered with immunocytokines based on IL2 and IL12. Indeed, combination therapy with an IL12-based immunocytokine yielded complete tumor eradication, in spite of the fact that IL4 and IL12 display opposite immunological mechanisms of action in terms of their polarization of T-cell based responses. No weight loss or any signs of toxicity were observed in treated mice, both in monotherapy and in combination, indicating a good tolerability of the immunocytokine treatment. Interestingly, mice cured from CT26 tumors acquired a durable protective antitumor immunity. Depletion experiments indicated that the antitumor activity was mediated by CD8+ T cells and by NK cells.
Keywords: immunocytokines; interleukin-12; interleukin-4; oncofetal fibronectin; vascular targeting.
© 2013 UICC.