CD19-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) engineered T/natural killer (NK)-cell therapies can result in durable clinical responses in B-cell malignancies. However, CAR-based immunotherapies have been much less successful in solid cancers, in part due to "on-target off-tumor" toxicity related to expression of target tumor antigens on normal tissue. Based on preliminary observations of safety and clinical activity in proof-of-concept clinical trials, tumor antigen-specific messenger RNA (mRNA) CAR transfection into selected, activated, and expanded T/NK cells may permit prospective control of "on-target off-tumor" toxicity. To develop a commercial product for solid tumors, mesothelin was selected as an antigen target based on its association with poor prognosis and overexpression in multiple solid cancers. It was hypothesized that selecting, activating, and expanding cells ex vivo prior to mRNA CAR transfection would not be necessary, thus simplifying the complexity and cost of manufacturing. Now, the development of anti-human mesothelin mRNA CAR transfected peripheral blood lymphocytes (CARMA-hMeso) is reported, demonstrating the manufacture and cryopreservation of multiple cell aliquots for repeat administrations from a single human leukapheresis. A rapid, automated, closed system for cGMP-compliant transfection of mRNA CAR in up to 20 × 10 9 peripheral blood lymphocytes was developed. Here we show that CARMA-hMeso cells recognize and lyse tumor cells in a mesothelin-specific manner. Expression of CAR was detectable over approximately 7 days in vitro, with a progressive decline of CAR expression that appears to correlate with in vitro cell expansion. In a murine ovarian cancer model, a single intraperitoneal injection of CARMA-hMeso resulted in the dose-dependent inhibition of tumor growth and improved survival of mice. Furthermore, repeat weekly intraperitoneal administrations of the optimal CARMA-hMeso dose further prolonged disease control and survival. No significant off-target toxicities were observed. These data support further investigation of CARMA-hMeso as a potential treatment for ovarian cancer and other mesothelin-expressing cancers.
Hung, C. F., Xu, X., Li, L., Ma, Y., Jin, Q., Viley, A., … Emens, L. A. (2018). Development of Anti-Human Mesothelin-Targeted Chimeric Antigen Receptor Messenger RNA-Transfected Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes for Ovarian Cancer Therapy. Human Gene Therapy, 29(5), 614–625. https://doi.org/10.1089/hum.2017.080