Introduction: Intratumoral injections of novel therapeutics can activate tumor antigen-specific T cells for locoregional tumor control and may even induce durable systemic protection (against distant metastases) via recirculating T cells. Here we explored the possibility of a universal immunotherapy that promotes T-cell responses in situ and beyond, upon intratumoral injection of nanoparticles formulated with micron-sized crystals.
Methods: Cucumber mosaic virus-like particles containing a tetanus toxin peptide (CuMVTT) were formulated with microcrystalline tyrosine (MCT) adjuvant and injected directly in B16F10 melanoma tumors. To further enhance immunogenicity, we loaded the nanoparticles with a TLR7/8 ligand and incorporated a universal tetanus toxin T-helper cell peptide. We assessed therapeutic efficacy and induction of local and systemic immune responses, including RNA sequencing, providing broad insight into the tumor microenvironment and correlates of protection.
Results: MCT crystals were successfully decorated with CuMVTT nanoparticles. This 'immune-enhancer' formed immunogenic depots in injected tumors, enhanced polyfunctional CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, and inhibited B16F10 tumor growth locally and systemically. Local inflammation and immune responses were associated with upregulation of genes involved in complement activation and collagen formation.
Conclusions: Our new immune-enhancer turned immunologically cold tumors into hot ones and inhibited local and distant tumor growth. This type of immunotherapy does not require the identification of (patient-individual) relevant tumor antigens. It is well tolerated, non-infectious, and affordable, and can readily be upscaled for future clinical testing and broad application in melanoma and likely other solid tumors.
Keywords: Immunotherapy; Melanoma.
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