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A Cetuximab-Mediated Suicide System in Chimeric Antigen Receptor–Modified Hematopoietic Stem Cells for Cancer Therapy

Authors
  • Kao, Roy L.1
  • Truscott, Laurel C.1
  • Chiou, Tzu-Ting1
  • Tsai, Wenting2
  • Wu, Anna M.2
  • De Oliveira, Satiro N.1
  • 1 Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California
  • 2 Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA, Los Angeles, California.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Human Gene Therapy
Publisher
Mary Ann Liebert
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2019
Volume
30
Issue
4
Pages
413–428
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1089/hum.2018.180
PMID: 30860401
PMCID: PMC6479239
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Using gene modification of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) to create persistent generation of multilineage immune effectors to target cancer cells directly is proposed. Gene-modified human HSC have been used to introduce genes to correct, prevent, or treat diseases. Concerns regarding malignant transformation, abnormal hematopoiesis, and autoimmunity exist, making the co-delivery of a suicide gene a necessary safety measure. Truncated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFRt) was tested as a suicide gene system co-delivered with anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) to human HSC. Third-generation self-inactivating lentiviral vectors were used to co-deliver an anti-CD19 CAR and EGFRt. In vitro , gene-modified HSC were differentiated into myeloid cells to allow transgene expression. An antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) assay was used, incubating target cells with leukocytes and monoclonal antibody cetuximab to determine the percentage of surviving cells. In vivo , gene-modified HSC were engrafted into NSG mice with subsequent treatment with intraperitoneal cetuximab. Persistence of gene-modified cells was assessed by flow cytometry, droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR), and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging using 89Zr-Cetuximab. Cytotoxicity was significantly increased ( p = 0.01) in target cells expressing EGFRt after incubation with leukocytes and cetuximab 1 μg/mL compared to EGFRt+ cells without cetuximab and non-transduced cells with or without cetuximab, at all effector:target ratios. Mice humanized with gene-modified HSC presented significant ablation of gene-modified cells after treatment ( p = 0.002). Remaining gene-modified cells were close to background on flow cytometry and within two logs of decrease of vector copy numbers by ddPCR in mouse tissues. PET imaging confirmed ablation with a decrease of an average of 82.5% after cetuximab treatment. These results give proof of principle for CAR-modified HSC regulated by a suicide gene. Further studies are needed to enable clinical translation. Cetuximab ADCC of EGFRt-modified cells caused effective killing. Different ablation approaches, such as inducible caspase 9 or co-delivery of other inert cell markers, should also be evaluated.

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