Photothermal therapy combined with neoantigen cancer vaccination for effective immunotherapy against large established tumors and distant metastasis

Adv Ther (Weinh). 2021 Aug;4(8):2100093. doi: 10.1002/adtp.202100093. Epub 2021 Jul 22.


Photothermal therapy (PTT) and neoantigen cancer vaccine each offers minimally invasive and highly specific cancer therapy; however, they are not effective against large established tumors due to physical and biological barriers that attenuate thermal ablation and abolish anti-tumor immunity. Here, we designed and performed comparative study using small (~ 50 mm3) and large (> 100 mm3) tumors to examine how tumor size affects the therapeutic efficiency of PTT and neoantigen cancer vaccine. We show that spiky gold nanoparticle (SGNP)-based PTT and synergistic dual adjuvant-based neoantigen cancer vaccine can efficiently regress small tumors as a single agent, but not large tumors due to limited internal heating and immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME). We report that PTT sensitizes tumors to neoantigen cancer vaccination by destroying and compromising the TME via thermally induced cellular and molecular damage, while neoantigen cancer vaccine reverts local immune suppression induced by PTT and shapes residual TME in favor of anti-tumor immunity. The combination therapy efficiently eradicated large local tumors and also exerted strong abscopal effect against pre-established distant tumors with robust systemic anti-tumor immunity. Thus, PTT combined with neoantigen cancer vaccine is a promising nano-immunotherapy for personalized therapy of advanced cancer.

Keywords: Photothermal therapy; cancer vaccine; nano-immunotherapy; neoantigen.