In vivo delivery of antigen-encoding mRNA is a promising approach to personalized cancer treatment. The therapeutic efficacy of mRNA vaccines is contingent on safe and efficient gene delivery, biological stability of the mRNA, and the immunological properties of the vaccine. Here we describe the development and evaluation of a versatile and highly efficient mRNA vaccine-delivery system that employs charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs) to deliver antigen-coding mRNA to antigen-presenting cells (APCs). We demonstrate in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells that CART vaccines can activate a robust antigen-specific immune response against mRNA-encoded viral epitopes. In an established mouse model, we demonstrate that CARTs preferentially target professional APCs in secondary lymphoid organs upon i.v. injections and target local APCs upon s.c. injection. Finally, we show that CARTs coformulated with mRNA and a Toll-like receptor ligand simultaneously transfect and activate target cells to generate an immune response that can treat and cure mice with large, established tumors.
Keywords: T cell responses; cancer vaccination; immunotherapy; mRNA; nanoparticles.