The clinical benefit of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy is often limited by the lack of pre-existing CD8+ T cells infiltrating the tumor. In principle, CD8+ T-cell infiltration could be promoted by therapeutic vaccination. However, this remains challenging given the paucity of vaccine platforms able to induce the strong cytotoxic CD8+ T-cell response required to reject tumors. A therapeutic cancer vaccine that induces a robust cytotoxic CD8+ T-cell response against shared tumor antigens and can be combined with ICB could improve the outcome of cancer immunotherapy. Here, we developed a heterologous prime-boost vaccine based on a chimpanzee adenovirus (ChAdOx1) and a modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) encoding MAGE-type antigens, which are tumor-specific shared antigens expressed in different tumor types. The mouse MAGE-type antigen P1A was used as a surrogate to study the efficacy of the vaccine in combination with ICB in murine tumor models expressing the P1A antigen. To characterize the vaccine-induced immune response, we performed flow cytometry and transcriptomic analyses. The ChAdOx1/MVA vaccine displayed strong immunogenicity with potent induction of CD8+ T cells. When combined with anti-Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 (PD-1), the vaccine induced superior tumor clearance and survival in murine tumor models expressing P1A compared with anti-PD-1 alone. Remarkably, ChAdOx1/MVA P1A vaccination promoted CD8+ T-cell infiltration in the tumors, and drove inflammation in the tumor microenvironment, turning 'cold' tumors into 'hot' tumors. Single-cell transcriptomic analysis of the P1A-specific CD8+ T cells revealed an expanded population of stem-like T cells in the spleen after the combination treatment as compared with vaccine alone, and a reduced PD-1 expression in the tumor CD8+ T cells. These findings highlight the synergistic potency of ChAdOx1/MVA MAGE vaccines combined with anti-PD-1 for cancer therapy, and establish the foundation for clinical translation of this approach. A clinical trial of ChadOx1/MVA MAGE-A3/NY-ESO-1 combined with anti-PD-1 will commence shortly.
Journal for immunotherapy of cancer
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Animals, Humans, Mice, Neoplasms, Antigens, Heterophile, Immunotherapy, Vaccination, Female, Tumor Microenvironment, Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors