Despite remarkable responses to cancer immunotherapy in a subset of patients, many patients remain resistant to therapies. It is now clear that elevated levels of tumor-infiltrating T cells as well as a systemic anti-tumor immune response are requirements for successful immunotherapies. However, the tumor microenvironment imposes an additional resistance mechanism to immunotherapy. We have developed a practical and improved strategy for cancer immunotherapy using an oncolytic virus and anti-OX40. This strategy takes advantage of a preexisting T cell immune repertoire in vivo, removing the need to know about present tumor antigens. We have shown in this study that the replication-deficient oncolytic Sindbis virus vector expressing interleukin-12 (IL-12) (SV.IL12) activates immune-mediated tumor killing by inducing OX40 expression on CD4 T cells, allowing the full potential of the agonistic anti-OX40 antibody. The combination of SV.IL12 with anti-OX40 markedly changes the transcriptome signature and metabolic program of T cells, driving the development of highly activated terminally differentiated effector T cells. These metabolically reprogrammed T cells demonstrate enhanced tumor infiltration capacity as well as anti-tumor activity capable of overcoming the repressive tumor microenvironment. Our findings identify SV.IL12 in combination with anti-OX40 to be a novel and potent therapeutic strategy that can cure multiple types of low-immunogenic solid tumors.
Keywords: Sindbis; alpha-virus immunotherapy; anti-OX40; anti-tumor immunity; cancer immunity; oncolytic virus anti-OX40 combination therapy.
© 2020 The Author(s).