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CD40 Agonists Alter Tumor Stroma and Show Efficacy Against Pancreatic Carcinoma in Mice and Humans

Science  25 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6024, pp. 1612-1616
DOI: 10.1126/science.1198443

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Abstract

Immunosuppressive tumor microenvironments can restrain antitumor immunity, particularly in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). Because CD40 activation can reverse immune suppression and drive antitumor T cell responses, we tested the combination of an agonist CD40 antibody with gemcitabine chemotherapy in a small cohort of patients with surgically incurable PDA and observed tumor regressions in some patients. We reproduced this treatment effect in a genetically engineered mouse model of PDA and found unexpectedly that tumor regression required macrophages but not T cells or gemcitabine. CD40-activated macrophages rapidly infiltrated tumors, became tumoricidal, and facilitated the depletion of tumor stroma. Thus, cancer immune surveillance does not necessarily depend on therapy-induced T cells; rather, our findings demonstrate a CD40-dependent mechanism for targeting tumor stroma in the treatment of cancer.

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