The development of engineered T cells to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is challenging due to difficulty in target selection and the need for robust T-cell expansion and persistence. We designed a T cell stimulated to kill AML cells based on recognition of the AML-associated surface marker CLEC12A, via secretion of a CLEC12AxCD3 bispecific "engager" molecule (CLEC12A-ENG). CLEC12A-ENG T cells are specifically activated by CLEC12A, are not toxic to hematopoietic progenitor cells, and exhibit antigen-dependent AML killing. Next, we coupled stimulation of T-cell survival to triggering of a chimeric IL7 receptor with an ectodomain that binds a second AML-associated surface antigen, CD123. The resulting T cells, identified as CLEC12A-ENG.CD123IL7Ra T cells, demonstrate improved activation upon dual target recognition, kill AML, and exhibit antitumor activity in xenograft models. Enhanced T-cell activation conferred by CD123.IL7Ra was dependent both on recognition of the CD123 target and on IL7Ra-mediated downstream signaling. Expression of a chimeric IL7R targeted to a second tumor-associated antigen (TAA) should improve T-cell activity not only against hematologic malignancies, but perhaps against all cancers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research