Neoadjuvant Intratumoral Immunotherapy with TLR9 Activation and Anti-OX40 Antibody Eradicates Metastatic Cancer

Cancer Res. 2022 Apr 1;82(7):1396-1408. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-21-1382.


The combination of the synthetic TLR9 ligand CpG and agnostic OX40 antibody can trigger systemic antitumor immune responses upon co-injection into the tumor microenvironment, eradicating simultaneous untreated sites of metastatic disease. Here we explore the application of this in situ immunotherapy to the neoadjuvant setting. Current neoadjuvant checkpoint blockade therapy is delivered systemically, resulting in off-target adverse effects. In contrast, intratumoral immunotherapy minimizes the potential for toxicities and allows for greater development of combination therapies. In two metastatic solid tumor models, neoadjuvant intratumoral immunotherapy generated a local T-cell antitumor response that then acted systemically to attack cancer throughout the body. In addition, the importance of timing between neoadjuvant immunotherapy and surgical resection was established, as well as the increased therapeutic power of adding systemic anti-PD1 antibody. The combination of local and systemic immunotherapy generated an additional survival benefit due to synergistic inhibitory effect on tumor-associated macrophages. These results provide a strong rationale for translating this neoadjuvant intratumoral immunotherapy to the clinical setting, especially in conjunction with established checkpoint inhibitors.

Significance: This work demonstrates the ability of neoadjuvant intratumoral immunotherapy to target local and distant metastatic disease and consequently improve survival.

Trial registration: NCT03410901 NCT03831295 NCT01347034 NCT00499083 NCT00365872 NCT04025879.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / methods
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9*
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Immunologic Factors
  • TLR9 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9

Associated data