Targeting of cancer neoantigens with donor-derived T cell receptor repertoires

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Science  10 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1337-1341
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf2288

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Outsourcing cancer immunotherapy

Successful cancer immunotherapy depends on a patient's T cells recognizing tumor-specific mutations and then waging a lethal attack. Despite tumors harboring many mutations, most individuals have very few T cells that respond to these so-called “neo-antigens.” Strønen et al. isolated T cells from healthy donors that responded to predicted neo-antigens expressed by melanomas taken from three patients, sometimes including neo-antigens that the patient's own T cells ignored (see the Perspective by Yadav and Delamarre). Testing whether such an outsourcing strategy could improve clinical outcomes will be an important next step.

Science, this issue p. 1337; see also p. 1275


Accumulating evidence suggests that clinically efficacious cancer immunotherapies are driven by T cell reactivity against DNA mutation–derived neoantigens. However, among the large number of predicted neoantigens, only a minority is recognized by autologous patient T cells, and strategies to broaden neoantigen-specific T cell responses are therefore attractive. We found that naïve T cell repertoires of healthy blood donors provide a source of neoantigen-specific T cells, responding to 11 of 57 predicted human leukocyte antigen (HLA)– A*02:01–binding epitopes from three patients. Many of the T cell reactivities involved epitopes that in vivo were neglected by patient autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Finally, T cells redirected with T cell receptors identified from donor-derived T cells efficiently recognized patient-derived melanoma cells harboring the relevant mutations, providing a rationale for the use of such “outsourced” immune responses in cancer immunotherapy.

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