-Author name in bold denotes the presenting author
-Asterisk * with author name denotes a Non-ASH member
Clinically Relevant Abstract denotes an abstract that is clinically relevant.

PhD Trainee denotes that this is a recommended PHD Trainee Session.

Ticketed Session denotes that this is a ticketed session.

730 iPSC-Derived NK Cells and Anti-PD-1 Antibody Synergize to Enhance T Cell Cytokine and Cytolytic Responses Against Multiple Tumors

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Type: Oral
Session: 203. Lymphocytes, Lymphocyte Activation, and Immunodeficiency, including HIV and Other Infections: Pre-clinical T and NK Cell Immunotherapies
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Biological, Therapies, Biological Processes, immunotherapy, NK cells, immune mechanism, stem cells
Monday, December 3, 2018: 3:30 PM
Room 8 (San Diego Convention Center)

Frank Cichocki, PhD1*, Ryan Bjordahl, PhD2*, Svetlana Gaidarova, MS2*, Sajid Mahmood, PhD2*, Paul Rogers, PhD2*, Moyar Q. Ge, PhD2*, Dan S Kaufman, MD, PhD3, Sarah Cooley, MD4, Bahram Valamehr, PhD2 and Jeffrey S. Miller, MD1

1Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
2Fate Therapeutics Inc., San Diego, CA
3Department of Medicine, Division of Regenerative Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA
4University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

The development of immunotherapeutic monoclonal antibodies targeting checkpoint inhibitory receptors (CIR), such as programmed death 1 (PD-1), has transformed the oncology landscape. However, many tumor subtypes are resistant to CIR-targeted therapy, and relapse remains a significant concern. Therefore, combination of novel immunotherapies with CIR targeting remains a promising and widely investigated approach to bolster anti-tumor responses and to overcome tumor resistance to CIR therapy.

Natural killer (NK) cells mediate direct tumor cell lysis and are key regulators of T cell responses through the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. In many cancers, NK cell numbers are low and their functional responses are sub-optimal. The use of allogeneic NK cell immunotherapy has shown significant clinical promise for the treatment of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). However, this approach has inherent limitations with respect to the number of NK cells that can be isolated and variability in the quantity and quality of NK cells between donors. To overcome these barriers, we have developed a system for large scale expansion of NK cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to be combined with CIR antibodies for multiple tumor types (Figure 1A). iPSC derive NK (iNK) cells (defined as CD45+CD3-CD56+) differentiated with high efficiency in this culture system (Figure 1B), and overall expansion from the hematopoietic progenitor stage to end of the protocol was approximately 1 million-fold (Figure 1C).

iNK cells displayed a cell surface phenotype typical of primary peripheral blood NK cells, with high expression of the cytotoxicity molecules granzyme B and perforin. Functionally, iNK cells degranulated and produced the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interferon (IFN)-γ at high frequencies in response to K562 cells (a myeloid leukemia cell line) (Figure 1D). These cells also effectively killed a broad range of solid tumor targets, including ovarian cancer (SKOV-3), lung cancer (A549) and pancreatic cancer (PANC-1) cell lines, in 2D tissue culture assays (Figure 1E). To interrogate the ability of iPSC-derived NK cells to synergize with CIR therapy, we used an in vitro 3D tumor spheroid system to model the combinatorial effects of T cells, iNK cells, and checkpoint blockade in the context of anti-tumor function. Using SKOV-3 spheroids as targets in a 160-hour killing assay, we found that iNK cells could mediate significant, but not complete destruction of tumor spheroids (46% tumor reduction). Addition of twice as many activated T cells by themselves induced tumor spheroid destruction (58% tumor reduction). The combination of iNK and activated T cells led to robust target cell destruction (71% tumor reduction). Importantly, the combination of activated T cells, iNK cells and anti-PD-1 antibody led to a near complete elimination of tumor spheroid targets, with greater than 99% tumor reduction (Figure 1F). In addition to synergistic lysis of tumor spheroids, analyses of cytokine secretion in iNK, activated T cell and CIR spheroid cultures revealed synergistic production of TNF and IFN-g (Figure 1G).

The results from our 3D spheroid assays led us to hypothesize that iNK cells could recruit T cells to promote tumor lysis. To test this hypothesis, we performed transwell migration assays to test the relative abilities of iNK cells and K562 cells to promote T cell migration. We found that, relative to media controls, both iNK cells and K562 cells promoted T cell migration across transwells, and the highest amount of degree of migration was observed in the presence of both iNK and K562 cells (Figure 1H). Finally, we tested iNK-mediated T cell recruitment in an in vivo setting where iNK cells and IL-2 were injected with or without K562 cells into the peritoneal cavities of immune-deficient NSG mice, and activated T cells were injected retro-orbitally into the blood. Mice were sacrificed 4 days later, and total T cells in the peritoneal cavities were determined. Compared to the T cell only control group, iNK cells promoted significant T cell recruitment to the peritoneum, which was amplified upon iNK cell activation with the addition of K562 cells (Figure 1I). Together, our data demonstrate that iNK cells can serve as an off-the-shelf source of NK cells and have the potential to synergize with anti-PD-1 CIR therapy to enhance anti-tumor T cell responses.

Disclosures: Cichocki: Fate Therapeutics Inc.: Consultancy, Research Funding. Bjordahl: Fate Therapeutics Inc.: Employment. Gaidarova: Fate Therapeutics Inc: Employment. Mahmood: Fate Therapeutics Inc.: Employment. Rogers: Fate Therapeutics Inc: Employment. Ge: Fate Therapeutics Inc.: Employment. Kaufman: Fate Therapeutics: Consultancy, Research Funding. Valamehr: Fate Therapeutics Inc.: Employment. Miller: Fate Therapeutics: Consultancy, Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; GT Biopharma: Consultancy, Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; Dr. Reddy's Labratories: Other: SAB; Onkimmune: Other: SAB; CytoSen: Other: SAB.

*signifies non-member of ASH