Manufacturing and preclinical validation of CAR T cells targeting ICAM-1 for advanced thyroid cancer therapy

Sci Rep. 2019 Jul 23;9(1):10634. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-46938-7.


While the majority of thyroid cancer patients are easily treatable, those with anaplastic or poorly differentiated recurrent thyroid carcinomas have a very poor prognosis with a median survival of less than a year. Previously, we have shown a significant correlation between ICAM-1 overexpression and malignancy in thyroid cancer, and have pioneered the use of ICAM-1 targeted CAR T cells as a novel treatment modality. For clinical translation of this novel modality, we designed CAR T cells possessing micromolar rather than nanomolar affinity to ICAM-1 to avoid cytotoxicity in normal cells with basal levels of ICAM-1 expression. Herein, we report the automated process of CAR T cell manufacturing with CliniMACS Prodigy (Miltenyi Biotec) using cryopreserved peripheral blood leukocytes from apheresis collections. Using Prodigy, thawed leukopak cells were enriched for CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, subjected to double transduction using lentiviral vector, and expanded in culture for a total of 10 days with a final yield of 2-4 × 109 cells. The resulting CAR T cells were formulated for cryopreservation to be used directly for infusion into patients after thawing with no further processing. We examined cross-reactivity of CAR T cells toward both human and murine ICAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression in human and mouse tissues to demonstrate that both efficacy and on-target, off-tumor toxicity can be studied in our preclinical model. Selective anti-tumor activity in the absence of toxicity provides proof-of-concept that micromolar affinity tuned CAR T cells can be used to target tumors expressing high levels of antigen while avoiding normal tissues expressing basal levels of the same antigen. These studies support the initiation of a phase I study to evaluate the safety and potential efficacy of micromolar affinity tuned CAR T cells against newly diagnosed anaplastic and refractory or recurrent thyroid cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • Cross Reactions
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / immunology*
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / immunology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays / methods*


  • ICAM1 protein, human
  • Icam1 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1