Treatment of patients bearing human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers with synthetic long-peptide (SLP) therapeutic vaccines has shown promising results in clinical trials against premalignant lesions, whereas responses against later stage carcinomas have remained elusive. We show that conjugation of a well-documented HPV-E7 SLP to ultra-small polymeric nanoparticles (NP) enhances the antitumor efficacy of therapeutic vaccination in different mouse models of HPV+ cancers. Immunization of TC-1 tumor-bearing mice with a single dose of NP-conjugated E7LP (NP-E7LP) generated a larger pool of E7-specific CD8+ T cells with increased effector functions than unconjugated free E7LP. At the tumor site, NP-E7LP prompted a robust infiltration of CD8+ T cells that was not accompanied by concomitant accumulation of regulatory T cells (Tregs), resulting in a higher CD8+ T-cell to Treg ratio. Consequently, the amplified immune response elicited by the NP-E7LP formulation led to increased regression of large, well-established tumors, resulting in a significant percentage of complete responses that were not achievable by immunizing with the non-NP-conjugated long-peptide. The partial responses were characterized by distinct phases of regression, stable disease, and relapse to progressive growth, establishing a platform to investigate adaptive resistance mechanisms. The efficacy of NP-E7LP could be further improved by therapeutic activation of the costimulatory receptor 4-1BB. This NP-E7LP formulation illustrates a "solid-phase" antigen delivery strategy that is more effective than a conventional free-peptide ("liquid") vaccine, further highlighting the potential of using such formulations for therapeutic vaccination against solid tumors. Cancer Immunol Res; 6(11); 1301-13. ©2018 AACR.
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.