Prostate cancer is generally considered an immunologically “cold” tumor type that is insensitive to immunotherapy. Targeting surface antigens on tumors through cellular therapy can induce a potent antitumor immune response to “heat up” the tumor microenvironment. However, many antigens expressed on prostate tumor cells are also found on normal tissues, potentially causing on-target, off-tumor toxicities and a suboptimal therapeutic index. Our studies revealed that six-transmembrane epithelial antigen of prostate-2 (STEAP2) was a prevalent prostate cancer antigen that displayed high, homogeneous cell surface expression across all stages of disease with limited distal normal tissue expression, making it ideal for therapeutic targeting. A multifaceted lead generation approach enabled development of an armored STEAP2 chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapeutic candidate, AZD0754. This CAR-T product was armored with a dominant-negative TGF-β type II receptor, bolstering its activity in the TGF-β–rich immunosuppressive environment of prostate cancer. AZD0754 demonstrated potent and specific cytotoxicity against antigen-expressing cells in vitro despite TGF-β–rich conditions. Further, AZD0754 enforced robust, dose-dependent in vivo efficacy in STEAP2-expressing cancer cell line–derived and patient-derived xenograft mouse models, and exhibited encouraging preclinical safety. Together, these data underscore the therapeutic tractability of STEAP2 in prostate cancer as well as build confidence in the specificity, potency, and tolerability of this potentially first-in-class CAR-T therapy.
Peter Zanvit, Dewald van Dyk, Christine Fazenbaker, Kelly McGlinchey, Weichuan Luo, Jessica M. Pezold, John Meekin, Chien-ying Chang, Rosa A. Carrasco, Shannon Breen, Crystal Sao-Fong Cheung, Ariel Endlich-Frazier, Benjamin Clark, Nina J. Chu, Alessio Vantellini, Philip L. Martin, Clare E. Hoover, Kenesha Riley, Steve M. Sweet, David Chain, Yeoun Jin Kim, Eric Tu, Nathalie Harder, Sandrina Phipps, Melissa Damschroder, Ryan N. Gilbreth, Mark Cobbold, Gordon Moody, Emily E. Bosco