J Immunother Cancer 2019 Jan 21
A novel anti-HER2 anthracycline-based antibody-drug conjugate induces adaptive anti-tumor immunity and potentiates PD-1 blockade in breast cancer.   
Increasing evidence suggests that antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) can enhance anti-tumor immunity and improve clinical outcome. Here, we elucidate the therapeutic efficacy and immune-mediated mechanisms of a novel HER2-targeting ADC bearing a potent anthracycline derivate as payload (T-PNU) in a human HER2-expressing syngeneic breast cancer model resistant to trastuzumab and ado-trastuzumab emtansine. Mechanistically, the anthracycline component of the novel ADC induced immunogenic cell death leading to exposure and secretion of danger-associated molecular signals. RNA sequencing derived immunogenomic signatures and TCRβ clonotype analysis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes revealed a prominent role of the adaptive immune system in the regulation of T-PNU mediated anti-cancer activity. Depletion of CD8 T cells severely reduced T-PNU efficacy, thus confirming the role of cytotoxic T cells as drivers of the T-PNU mediated anti-tumor immune response. Furthermore, T-PNU therapy promoted immunological memory formation in tumor-bearing animals protecting those from tumor rechallenge. Finally, the combination of T-PNU and checkpoint inhibition, such as α-PD1, significantly enhanced tumor eradication following the treatment. In summary, a novel PNU-armed, HER2-targeting ADC elicited long-lasting immune protection in a murine orthotopic breast cancer model resistant to other HER2-directed therapies. Our findings delineate the therapeutic potential of this novel ADC payload and support its clinical development for breast cancer patients and potentially other HER2 expressing malignancies.

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