An Anticancer Drug Cocktail of Three Kinase Inhibitors Improved Response to a Dendritic Cell-Based Cancer Vaccine

Cancer Immunol Res. 2019 Sep;7(9):1523-1534. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-18-0684. Epub 2019 Jul 2.


Monocyte-derived dendritic cell (moDC)-based cancer therapies intended to elicit antitumor T-cell responses have limited efficacy in most clinical trials. However, potent and sustained antitumor activity in a limited number of patients highlights the therapeutic potential of moDCs. In vitro culture conditions used to generate moDCs can be inconsistent, and moDCs generated in vitro are less effective than natural DCs. On the basis of our study highlighting the ability for certain kinase inhibitors to enhance tumor antigenicity, we therefore screened kinase inhibitors for their ability to improve DC immunogenicity. We identified AKT inhibitor MK2206, DNA-PK inhibitor NU7441, and MEK inhibitor trametinib as the compounds most effective at modulating moDC immunogenicity. The combination of these drugs, referred to as MKNUTRA, enhanced moDC activity over treatment with individual drugs while exhibiting minimal toxicity. An evaluation of 335 activation and T-cell-suppressive surface proteins on moDCs revealed that MKNUTRA treatment more effectively matured cells and reduced the expression of tolerogenic proteins as compared with control moDCs. MKNUTRA treatment imparted to ICT107, a glioblastoma (GBM) DC-based vaccine that has completed phase II trials, an increased ability to stimulate patient-derived autologous CD8+ T cells against the brain tumor antigens IL13Rα2(345-354) and TRP2(180-188) In vivo, treating ICT107 with MKNUTRA, prior to injection into mice with an established GBM tumor, reduced tumor growth kinetics. This response was associated with an increased frequency of tumor-reactive lymphocytes within tumors and in peripheral tissues. These studies broaden the application of targeted anticancer drugs and highlight their ability to increase moDC immunogenicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Cell Communication
  • Chromones / pharmacology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Morpholines / pharmacology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism


  • 8-dibenzothiophen-4-yl-2-morpholin-4-yl-chromen-4-one
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Chromones
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring
  • MK 2206
  • Morpholines
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors