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Cancer Res. 2011 Mar 15;71(6):2066-76. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-3200. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

Cancer immunotherapy using a bispecific NK receptor fusion protein that engages both T cells and tumor cells.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756, USA.


T-cell immunotherapy is a promising strategy to treat cancer, but its efficacy, complexity, and costs may pose challenges. In this study, we report the results of an investigation of a new approach to selectively activate a T-cell attack against tumor cells. The immunotherapeutic approach we developed utilizes a bifunctional fusion protein that binds tumor cells through NK (natural killer)-activating receptor NKG2D and that recruits and stimulates T cells through an anti-CD3 single-chain variable fragment (scFv-NKG2D). In vitro, this scFv-NKG2D fusion protein engaged both T cells and tumor cells, stimulating T cells to produce IFN-γ, and cytotoxicity against NKG2D ligand-positive tumor cells. In vivo, expression of scFv-NKG2D by NKG2D ligand-positive tumor cells reduced tumor burden and, in some cases, led to tumor-free survival. Administration of scFv-NKG2D in vivo also promoted survival in a murine lymphoma model. Tumor-free mice were resistant to rechallenge with cognate tumor cells, suggesting that a host-specific immunologic memory response had been generated. Host adaptive immunity including γδ T cells was required for scFv-NKG2D-mediated therapeutic efficacy. ScFv-NKG2D also inhibited the growth of NKG2D ligand-negative B16F10 tumors, reduced the percentage of myeloid-derived suppressor cells and regulatory T cells, and increased the infiltration of T cells, suggesting that scFv-NKG2D may target these immune suppressive cells. Together, these results establish scFv-NKG2D as a promising biological fusion protein to induce effective antitumor immunity.

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