The addition of recombinant vaccinia HER2/neu to oncolytic vaccinia-GMCSF given into the tumor microenvironment overcomes MDSC-mediated immune escape and systemic anergy

C R de Vries, C E Monken, E C Lattime
Cancer Gene Therapy 2015, 22 (3): 154-62
Effective immunotherapeutic strategies require the ability to generate a systemic antigen-specific response capable of impacting both primary and metastatic disease. We have built on our oncolytic vaccinia a granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) strategy by adding recombinant tumor antigen to increase the response in the tumor microenvironment and systemically. In the present study, orthotopic growth of a syngeneic HER2/neu-overexpressing mammary carcinoma in FVB/N mice (NBT1) was associated with increased Gr1(+)CD11b(+) myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) both systemically and in the tumor microenvironment. This MDSC population had inhibitory effects on the HER2/neu-specific Th1 immune response. VVneu and VVGMCSF are recombinant oncolytic vaccinia viruses that encode HER2/neu and GM-CSF, respectively. Naive FVB mice vaccinated with combined VVneu and VVGMCSF given systemically developed systemic HER2/neu-specific immunity. NBT1-bearing mice became anergic to systemic immunization with combined VVneu and VVGMCSF. Intratumoral VVGMCSF failed to result in systemic antitumor immunity until combined with intratumoral VVneu. Infection/transfection of the tumor microenvironment with combined VVGMCSF and VVneu resulted in development of systemic tumor-specific immunity, reduction in splenic and tumor MDSC and therapeutic efficacy against tumors. These studies demonstrate the enhanced efficacy of oncolytic vaccinia virus recombinants encoding combined tumor antigen and GM-CSF in modulating the microenvironment of MDSC-rich tumors.

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