BMJ Publishing Group, Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, 1(8), p. e000166, 2020
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BackgroundAdoptive cell therapy (ACT) with tumor-reactive T cells has shown consistent clinical efficacy. We evaluated the response to ACT in combination with interferon alpha (IFNa) preconditioning in patients with stage IV metastatic melanoma, most of which were progressive on cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 and/or programmed cell death protein 1 checkpoint blockade therapy.MethodsThirty-four patients were treated with ex vivo expanded tumor reactive T cells, derived from mixed lymphocyte autologous tumor cultures, or with autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and evaluated for clinical response. Clinical and immunological parameters associated with response were also evaluated.ResultsBest overall response defined as clinical benefit, comprising either complete response, partial response or stable disease >6 months, was observed in 29% of the patients. Forty-three per cent of the 14 immunotherapy-naïve patients and 20% of the 20 patients progressive on prior immunotherapy benefited from ACT. The overall survival (OS) was 90% versus 28.6% at 1 year and 46.7% versus 0% at 3 years follow-up, of responder and non-responder patients, respectively. Median OS was 36 versus 7 months, respectively. IFNa pretreatment resulted in leukopenia, neutropenia and lymphopenia, which was sustained during the treatment in clinical responders and associated with response. Differences in antigen specificity, but not in phenotype, cytokine profile or CD8+ T cell number of the ACT products correlated with clinical response. Cross-reactivity of the ACT products to one or more allogeneic human leukocyte antigen-matched melanoma cell lines was associated with short OS after treatment while the ACT products of very long-term survivors showed no cross-reactivity but recognized patient-specific neoantigens.ConclusionThis study demonstrates that ACT in combination with a mild IFNa preconditioning regimen can induce clinical benefit even in immunotherapy pretreated patients, although with lower success than in immunotherapy-naïve patients. ACT products comprising neoantigen reactivity may be more effective.