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  • Ylösmäki, Erkko; Fusciello, Manlio; Martins, Beatriz; Feola, Sara; Hamdan, Firas; Chiaro, Jacopo; Ylösmäki, Leena; Vaughan, Matthew J.; Viitala, Tapani; Kulkarni, Prasad S.; Cerullo, Vincenzo (2021)
    Background Intratumoral BCG therapy, one of the earliest immunotherapies, can lead to infiltration of immune cells into a treated tumor. However, an increase in the number of BCG-induced tumor-specific T cells in the tumor microenvironment could lead to enhanced therapeutic effects. Methods Here, we have developed a novel cancer vaccine platform based on BCG that can broaden BCG-induced immune responses to include tumor antigens. By physically attaching tumor-specific peptides onto the mycobacterial outer membrane, we were able to induce strong systemic and intratumoral T cell-specific immune responses toward the attached tumor antigens. These therapeutic peptides can be efficiently attached to the mycobacterial outer membrane using a poly-lysine sequence N-terminally fused to the tumor-specific peptides. Results Using two mouse models of melanoma and a mouse model of colorectal cancer, we observed that the antitumor immune responses of BCG could be improved by coating the BCG with tumor-specific peptides. In addition, by combining this novel cancer vaccine platform with anti-programmed death 1 (anti-PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy, the number of responders to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy was markedly increased. Conclusions This study shows that intratumoral BCG immunotherapy can be improved by coating the bacteria with modified tumor-specific peptides. In addition, this improved BCG immunotherapy can be combined with ICI therapy to obtain enhanced tumor growth control. These results warrant clinical testing of this novel cancer vaccine platform.
  • Ylösmäki, Erkko; Malorzo, Cristina; Capasso, Cristian; Honkasalo, Oona; Fusciello, Manlio; Martins, Beatriz; Ylösmäki, Leena; Louna, Antti; Feola, Sara; Paavilainen, Henrik; Peltonen, Karita; Hukkanen, Veijo; Viitala, Tapani; Cerullo, Vincenzo (2018)
    The approval of the first oncolytic virus for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and the compiling evidence that the use of oncolytic viruses can enhance cancer immunotherapies targeted against various immune checkpoint proteins has attracted great interest in the field of cancer virotherapy. We have developed a novel platform for clinically relevant enveloped viruses that can direct the virus-induced immune response against tumor antigens. By physically attaching tumor- specific peptides onto the viral envelope of vaccinia virus and herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), we were able to induce a strong T cell-specific immune response toward these tumor antigens. These therapeutic peptides could be attached onto the viral envelope by using a cell-penetrating peptide sequence derived from human immunodeficiency virus Tat N-terminally fused to the tumor-specific peptides or, alternatively, therapeutic peptides could be conjugated with cholesterol for the attachment of the peptides onto the viral envelope. We used two mouse models of melanoma termed B16. OVA and B16-F10 for testing the efficacy of OVA SIINFEKL-peptide-coated viruses and gp100-Trp2-peptide-coated viruses, respectively, and show that by coating the viral envelope with therapeutic peptides, the anti-tumor immunity and the number of tumor-specific CD8(+) T cells in the tumor microenvironment can be significantly enhanced.