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Cancer immunology research

Targeting fibroblast activation protein in tumor stroma with chimeric antigen receptor T cells can inhibit tumor growth and augment host immunity without severe toxicity.


PMID 24778279

Abstract

The majority of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell research has focused on attacking cancer cells. Here, we show that targeting the tumor-promoting, nontransformed stromal cells using CAR T cells may offer several advantages. We developed a retroviral CAR construct specific for the mouse fibroblast activation protein (FAP), comprising a single-chain Fv FAP [monoclonal antibody (mAb) 73.3] with the CD8α hinge and transmembrane regions, and the human CD3ζ and 4-1BB activation domains. The transduced muFAP-CAR mouse T cells secreted IFN-γ and killed FAP-expressing 3T3 target cells specifically. Adoptively transferred 73.3-FAP-CAR mouse T cells selectively reduced FAP(hi) stromal cells and inhibited the growth of multiple types of subcutaneously transplanted tumors in wild-type, but not FAP-null immune-competent syngeneic mice. The antitumor effects could be augmented by multiple injections of the CAR T cells, by using CAR T cells with a deficiency in diacylglycerol kinase, or by combination with a vaccine. A major mechanism of action of the muFAP-CAR T cells was the augmentation of the endogenous CD8(+) T-cell antitumor responses. Off-tumor toxicity in our models was minimal following muFAP-CAR T-cell therapy. In summary, inhibiting tumor growth by targeting tumor stroma with adoptively transferred CAR T cells directed to FAP can be safe and effective, suggesting that further clinical development of anti-human FAP-CAR is warranted.