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Specific Inhibition of Tumor Growth by T Cell Receptor–Drug Conjugates Targeting Intracellular Cancer-Testis Antigen NY-ESO-1/LAGE‑1

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journal contribution
posted on 25.11.2020, 22:06 by Chi-Xiao Qiu, Xue-Fei Bai, Ying Shen, Zhan Zhou, Li-Qiang Pan, Ying-Chun Xu, Wen-Bin Zhao, Shu-Qing Chen
Despite the significant therapeutic advances in T-cell immunotherapy, many malignancies remain unresponsive, which might be because of the negative regulation of T cells by the tumor microenvironment (TME). T cells discriminate tumor cells and normal cells through T-cell receptors (TCRs); therefore, we generated a novel type of TCR–drug conjugates (TDCs) by referring antibody–drug conjugations (ADCs) to overcome the effects of the TME on T cells while preserving the specificity of TCR for tumor recognition. We selected HLA-A2/NY-ESO-1157–165 (peptide NY-ESO-1157–165 in complex with human leukocyte antigen serotype HLA-A*02:01) as the antigen and the antigen-specific TCR (1G4113) as the carrier. By sortase A-mediated ligation, we obtained three NY-TCR-vcMMAEs and further studied their properties, antitumor activity, and toxicity in vitro and in vivo. We found that all the NY-TCR-vcMMAEs had high endocytosis efficiency and specifically killed HLA-A2/NY-ESO-1157–165 positive tumor cells. In xenograft models, one of the TDCs, NY-TCR-2M, was effectively and specifically distributed into tumor tissues and inhibited tumor growth without inducing obvious toxicity. Our results demonstrated that TCRs can be carriers of toxic payloads and that the TDCs thus formed can specifically inhibit tumor growth, neglecting the immune microenvironment.

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