Therapeutic vaccines that augment T cell responses to tumor antigens have been limited by poor potency in clinical trials. In contrast, the transfer of T cells modified with foreign transgenes frequently induces potent endogenous T cell responses to epitopes in the transgene product, and these responses are undesirable, because they lead to rejection of the transferred T cells. We sought to harness gene-modified T cells as a vaccine platform and developed cancer vaccines composed of autologous T cells modified with tumor antigens and additional adjuvant signals (Tvax). T cells expressing model antigens and a broad range of tumor neoantigens induced robust and durable T cell responses through cross-presentation of antigens by host DCs. Providing Tvax with signals such as CD80, CD137L, IFN-β, IL-12, GM-CSF, and FLT3L enhanced T cell priming. Coexpression of IL-12 and GM-CSF induced the strongest CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses through complimentary effects on the recruitment and activation of DCs, mediated by autocrine IL-12 receptor signaling in the Tvax. Therapeutic vaccination with Tvax and adjuvants showed antitumor activity in subcutaneous and metastatic preclinical mouse models. Human T cells modified with neoantigens readily activated specific T cells derived from patients, providing a path for clinical translation of this therapeutic platform in cancer.
Joshua R. Veatch, Naina Singhi, Shivani Srivastava, Julia L. Szeto, Brenda Jesernig, Sylvia M. Stull, Matthew Fitzgibbon, Megha Sarvothama, Sushma Yechan-Gunja, Scott E. James, Stanley R. Riddell