Checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized cancer therapy and validated immunotherapy as an approach. Unfortunately, responses are seen in a minority of patients. Our objective is to use engineered adenoviruses designed to increase lymphocyte trafficking and cytokine production at the tumor, to assess if they increase the response rate to checkpoint inhibition, as these features have been regarded as predictive for the responses. When Ad5/3-E2F-d24-hTNFa-IRES-hIL2 (an oncolytic adenovirus coding for TNFa and IL-2, also known as TILT-123) and checkpoint inhibitors were used together in fresh urological tumor histocultures, a significant shift toward immune activity (not only tumor necrosis alpha and interleukin-2 but also interferon gamma and granzyme B) and increased T-cell trafficking signals (CXCL10) was observed. In vivo, our viruses enabled an anti-PD-L1 (a checkpoint inhibitor) delivering complete responses in all the treated animals (hazard ratios versus anti-PD-L1 alone 0.057 [0.007; 0.451] or virotherapy alone 0.067 [0.011; 0.415]). To conclude, when an engineered oncolytic adenovirus was utilized to modify the tumor microenvironment towards what meta-analyses have pointed as predictive markers for checkpoint inhibitory therapy, the response to them increased synergistically. Of note, key findings were confirmed in fresh patient-derived tumor explants.
Keywords: Oncolytic virus; adenovirus; checkpoint inhibitors; immunotherapy; tumor microenvironment.
© 2020 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.