ARTICLE ABSTRACTIn this article, we describe a combination chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy that eradicated the majority of tumors in two immunocompetent murine pancreatic cancer models and a human pancreatic cancer xenograft model.
We used a dual-specific murine CAR T cell that expresses a CAR against the Her2 tumor antigen, and a T-cell receptor (TCR) specific for gp100. As gp100 is also known as pMEL, the dual-specific CAR T cells are thus denoted as CARaMEL cells. A vaccine containing live vaccinia virus coding a gp100 minigene (VV-gp100) was administered to the recipient mice to stimulate CARaMEL cells. The treatment also included the histone deacetylase inhibitor panobinostat (Pano).
The combination treatment enabled significant suppression of Her2+ pancreatic cancers leading to the eradication of the majority of the tumors. Besides inducing cancer cell apoptosis, Pano enhanced CAR T-cell gene accessibility and promoted CAR T-cell differentiation into central memory cells. To test the translational potential of this approach, we established a method to transduce human T cells with an anti-Her2 CAR and a gp100-TCR. The exposure of the human T cells to Pano promoted a T-cell central memory phenotype and the combination treatment of human CARaMEL cells and Pano eradicated human pancreatic cancer xenografts in mice.
We propose that patients with pancreatic cancer could be treated using a scheme that contains dual-specific CAR T cells, a vaccine that activates the dual-specific CAR T cells through their TCR, and the administration of Pano.