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Gene Ther. 2019 Feb;26(1-2):1-15. doi: 10.1038/s41434-018-0044-5. Epub 2018 Oct 15.

Characterization of abscopal effects of intratumoral electroporation-mediated IL-12 gene therapy.

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OncoSec Medical Incorporated, 3565 General Atomics Court #100, San Diego, CA, 92121, USA.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue N, Seattle, WA, 98109, USA.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue N, Seattle, WA, 98109, USA.


Intratumoral electroporation-mediated IL-12 gene therapy (IT-pIL12/EP) has been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials, demonstrating systemic antitumor effects with local delivery of this potent cytokine. We recently optimized our IL-12 gene delivery platform to increase transgene expression and efficacy in preclinical models. Here we analyze the immunological changes induced with the new IT-pIL12/EP platform in both electroporated and distant, non-electroporated lesions. IT-pIL12/EP-treated tumors demonstrated rapid induction of IL-12-regulated pathways, as well as other cytokines and chemokines pathways, and upregulation of antigen presentation machinery. The distant tumors showed an increase in infiltrating lymphocytes and gene expression changes indicative of a de novo immune response in these untreated lesions. Flow cytometric analyses revealed a KLRG1hi CD8+ effector T-cell population uniquely present in mice treated with IT-pIL12/EP. Despite being highly activated, this population expressed diminished levels of PD-1 when re-exposed to antigen in the PD-L1-rich tumor. Other T-cell exhaustion markers appeared to be downregulated in concert, suggesting an orchestrated "armoring" of these effector T cells against T-cell checkpoints when primed in the presence of IL-12 in situ. These cells may represent an important mechanism by which local IL-12 gene therapy can induce a systemic antitumor immune response without the associated toxicity of systemic IL-12 exposure.

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