Engineered CAR T Cells Targeting the Cancer-Associated Tn-Glycoform of the Membrane Mucin MUC1 Control Adenocarcinoma

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Abstract

Genetically modified T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) demonstrate robust responses against lineage restricted, non-essential targets in hematologic cancers. However, in solid tumors, the full potential of CAR T cell therapy is limited by the availability of cell surface antigens with sufficient cancer-specific expression. The majority of CAR targets have been normal self-antigens on dispensable hematopoietic tissues or overexpressed shared antigens. Here, we established that abnormal self-antigens can serve as targets for tumor rejection. We developed a CAR that recognized cancer-associated Tn glycoform of MUC1, a neoantigen expressed in a variety of cancers. Anti-Tn-MUC1 CAR T cells demonstrated target-specific cytotoxicity and successfully controlled tumor growth in xenograft models of T cell leukemia and pancreatic cancer. These findings demonstrate the therapeutic efficacy of CAR T cells directed against Tn-MUC1 and present aberrantly glycosylated antigens as a novel class of targets for tumor therapy with engineered T cells.

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