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Cancer Immunol Res. 2019 Aug;7(8):1359-1370. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-18-0620. Epub 2019 Jul 10.

Efficient Tumor Clearance and Diversified Immunity through Neoepitope Vaccines and Combinatorial Immunotherapy.

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Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
NantOmics, LLC, Culver City, California.
EMD Serono Research and Development Institute, Billerica, Massachusetts.
Syndax, Waltham, Massachusetts.
NantBio, Inc, & ImmunityBio, Culver City, California.
Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Medicine, El Segundo, California.
Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
Contributed equally


Progressive tumor growth is associated with deficits in the immunity generated against tumor antigens. Vaccines targeting tumor neoepitopes have the potential to address qualitative defects; however, additional mechanisms of immune failure may underlie tumor progression. In such cases, patients would benefit from additional immune-oncology agents targeting potential mechanisms of immune failure. This study explores the identification of neoepitopes in the MC38 colon carcinoma model by comparison of tumor to normal DNA and tumor RNA sequencing technology, as well as neoepitope delivery by both peptide- and adenovirus-based vaccination strategies. To improve antitumor efficacies, we combined the vaccine with a group of rationally selected immune-oncology agents. We utilized an IL15 superagonist to enhance the development of antigen-specific immunity initiated by the neoepitope vaccine, PD-L1 blockade to reduce tumor immunosuppression, and a tumor-targeted IL12 molecule to facilitate T-cell function within the tumor microenvironment. Analysis of tumor-infiltrating leukocytes demonstrated this multifaceted treatment regimen was required to promote the influx of CD8+ T cells and enhance the expression of transcripts relating to T-cell activation/effector function. Tumor-targeted IL12 resulted in a marked increase in clonality of T-cell repertoire infiltrating the tumor, which when sculpted with the addition of either a peptide or adenoviral neoepitope vaccine promoted efficient tumor clearance. In addition, the neoepitope vaccine induced the spread of immunity to neoepitopes expressed by the tumor but not contained within the vaccine. These results demonstrate the importance of combining neoepitope-targeting vaccines with a multifaceted treatment regimen to generate effective antitumor immunity.

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