Malignant melanoma is an aggressive type of skin cancer whose incidence is increasing globally. Although surgery is effective in early stage melanoma, patients with advanced melanoma only have a 20% 5-year survival rate. Hence, combinations of existing and new immunotherapy technologies and immunotherapeutic agents are being evaluated. ONCOS-102 is an oncolytic adenovirus armed with human GM-CSF and an Ad5/3 chimeric capsid. It has shown to be well tolerated in phase I study (NCT01598129) wherein it induced antitumor immunity, infiltration of CD8 + T cells to tumors, and up-regulation of PD-L1. We propose that ONCOS-102 could serve as an immunosensitizer in combination therapies with checkpoint inhibitors. In this preclinical study, we investigated the cytotoxicity of ONCOS-102 and pembrolizumab, an anti-PD-1 antibody, in four human melanoma cell lines, A375, A2058, SK-Mel-2 and SK-Mel-28. Humanized mice engrafted with A2058 melanoma cells showed significant tumor volume reduction after ONCOS-102 treatment. Combination of pembrolizumab with ONCOS-102 reduced tumor volume to an even greater extent, while pembrolizumab (200 µg, or 400 µg) did not show any therapeutic benefit by itself. Body weight loss, and metastasis were not significantly affected by any treatment. These data support the scientific rationale for the ongoing clinical study of combination therapy of ONCOS-102 and pembrolizumab for the treatment of melanoma (NCT03003676).
Keywords: NOG; ONCOS-102; PD-1 inhibitor; Pembrolizumab; antitumor; cancer vaccine; immunogenic cell death; melanoma; oncolytic adenovirus.