Killing tumor-associated bacteria with a liposomal antibiotic generates neoantigens that induce anti-tumor immune responses

Nat Biotechnol. 2023 Sep 25. doi: 10.1038/s41587-023-01957-8. Online ahead of print.


Increasing evidence implicates the tumor microbiota as a factor that can influence cancer progression. In patients with colorectal cancer (CRC), we found that pre-resection antibiotics targeting anaerobic bacteria substantially improved disease-free survival by 25.5%. For mouse studies, we designed an antibiotic silver-tinidazole complex encapsulated in liposomes (LipoAgTNZ) to eliminate tumor-associated bacteria in the primary tumor and liver metastases without causing gut microbiome dysbiosis. Mouse CRC models colonized by tumor-promoting bacteria (Fusobacterium nucleatum spp.) or probiotics (Escherichia coli Nissle spp.) responded to LipoAgTNZ therapy, which enabled more than 70% long-term survival in two F. nucleatum-infected CRC models. The antibiotic treatment generated microbial neoantigens that elicited anti-tumor CD8+ T cells. Heterologous and homologous bacterial epitopes contributed to the immunogenicity, priming T cells to recognize both infected and uninfected tumors. Our strategy targets tumor-associated bacteria to elicit anti-tumoral immunity, paving the way for microbiome-immunotherapy interventions.