Targeted cancer immunotherapy via combination of designer bispecific antibody and novel gene-engineered T cells

Katarzyna Urbanska, Rachel C. Lynn, Caitlin Stashwick, Archana Thakur, Lawrence G. Lum, Daniel J. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Redirection of T lymphocytes against tumor antigens can induce dramatic regression of advanced stage malignancy. The use of bispecific antibodies (BsAbs) that bind both the T-cell receptor (TCR) and a target antigen is one promising approach to T-cell redirection. However, BsAbs indiscriminately bind all CD3+ T-cells and trigger TCR activation in the absence of parallel costimulatory signals required to overcome T-cell unresponsiveness or anergy. Methods: To address these limitations, a combination platform was designed wherein a unique BsAb referred to as frBsAb exclusively engages T-cells engineered to express a novel chimeric receptor comprised of extracellular folate receptor fused to intracellular TCR and CD28 costimulatory signaling domains in tandem; a BsAb-binding immune receptor (BsAb-IR). As a surrogate TCR, the BsAb-IR allows for concomitant TCR and costimulatory signaling exclusively in transduced T-cells upon engagement with specific frBsAbs, and can therefore redirect T-cells on command to desired antigen. Human primary T-cells were transduced with lentiviral vector and expanded for 14-18 days. BsAb-IRs were harvested and armed with frBsAbs to test for redirected cytotoxicity against CD20 positive cancer cell lines. Results: Using frBsAbs specific for CD20 or HER2, the lytic activity of primary human T-cells expressing the BsAb-IR was specifically redirected against CD20+ leukemic cells or HER2+ epithelial cancer cells, respectively, while non-engineered T-cells were not activated. Notably, elimination of the CD28 costimulatory domain from the BsAb-IR construct significantly reduced frBsAb-redirected antitumor responses, confirming that frBsAbs are capable of delivering simultaneous TCR activation and costimulatory signals to BsAb-IR T-cells. Conclusion: In summary, our results establish the proof of concept that the combination of BsAbs with optimized gene-engineered T-cells provides the opportunity to specify and augment tumor antigen-specific T-cell activation and may improve upon the early success of conventional BsAbs in cancer immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number347
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

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