CD47-targeted cancer immunogene therapy: Secreted SIRPα-Fc fusion protein eradicates tumors by macrophage and NK cell activation

Mol Ther Oncolytics. 2021 Oct 1:23:192-204. doi: 10.1016/j.omto.2021.09.005. eCollection 2021 Dec 17.


CD47 protects healthy cells from macrophage attack by binding to signal regulatory protein α (SIRPα), while its upregulation in cancer prevents immune clearance. Systemic treatment with CD47 antibodies requires a weakened Fc-mediated effector function or lower CD47-binding affinity to prevent side effects. Our approach combines "the best of both worlds," i.e., maximized CD47 binding and full Fc-mediated immune activity, by exploiting gene therapy for paracrine release. We developed a plasmid vector encoding for the secreted fusion protein sCV1-hIgG1, comprising highly efficient CD47-blocking moiety CV1 and Fc domain of human immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) with maximized immune activation. sCV1-hIgG1 exhibited a potent bystander effect, blocking CD47 on all cells via fusion protein secreted from only a fraction of cells or when transferring transfection supernatant to untransfected cells. The CpG-free plasmid ensured sustained secretion of sCV1-hIgG1. In orthotopic human triple-negative breast cancer in CB17-severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice, ex vivo transfection significantly delayed tumor growth and eradicated one-third of tumors. In intratumoral transfection experiments, CD47 blockage and increased migration of macrophages into the tumor were observed within 17 h of a single injection. Natural killer (NK) cell-mediated lysis of sCV1-hIgG1-expressing cells was demonstrated in vitro. Taken together, this approach also opens the opportunity to block, in principle, any immune checkpoints.

Keywords: CD47; Fc receptor; NK cells; gene therapy; immunogene therapy; macrophage; polyplex; signal regulatory protein alpha; transfection.