Immunocytokines are a promising immunotherapeutic approach against glioblastoma



Tobias Weiss, Emanuele Puca, Manuela Silginer, Teresa Hemmerle, Shila Pazahr, Andrea Bink, Michael Weller, Dario Neri, and Patrick Roth.



Glioblastoma is a poorly immunogenic cancer, and the successes with recent immunotherapies in extracranial malignancies have, so far, not been translated to this devastating disease. Therefore, there is an urgent need for new strategies to convert the immunologically cold glioma microenvironment into a hot one to enable effective antitumor immunity. Using the L19 antibody, which is specific to a tumor-associated epitope of extracellular fibronectin, we developed antibody-cytokine fusions—immunocytokines—with interleukin-2 (IL2), IL12, or tumor necrosis factor (TNF). We showed that L19 accumulated in the tumor microenvironment of two orthotopic immunocompetent mouse glioma models. Furthermore, intravenous administration of L19-mIL12 or L19-mTNF cured a proportion of tumor-bearing mice, whereas L19-IL2 did not. This therapeutic activity was abolished in RAG−/− mice or upon depletion of CD4 or CD8 T cells, suggesting adaptive immunity. Mechanistically, both immunocytokines promoted tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and increased the amounts of proinflammatory cytokines within the tumor microenvironment. In addition, L19-mTNF induced tumor necrosis. Systemic administration of the fully human L19-TNF fusion protein to patients with glioblastoma (NCT03779230) was safe, decreased regional blood perfusion within the tumor, and was associated with increasing tumor necrosis and an increase in tumor-infiltrating CD4 and CD8 T cells. The extensive preclinical characterization and subsequent clinical translation provide a robust basis for future studies with immunocytokines to treat malignant brain tumors.


Tobias W., Emanuele P., Manuela Si., et al. Immunocytokines are a promising immunotherapeutic approach against glioblastoma. Science Translational Medicine 07 Oct 2020: 12, (564), eabb2311 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abb2311


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