NK cells engineered to express a GD2-specific antigen receptor display built-in ADCC-like activity against tumour cells of neuroectodermal origin

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Abstract

Treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma (NB) represents a major challenge in paediatric oncology. Alternative therapeutic strategies include antibodies targeting the disialoganglioside GD2, which is expressed at high levels on NB cells, and infusion of donor-derived natural killer (NK) cells. To combine specific antibody-mediated recognition of NB cells with the potent cytotoxic activity of NK cells, here we generated clonal derivatives of the clinically applicable human NK cell line NK-92 that stably express a GD2-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) comprising an anti-GD2 ch14.18 single chain Fv antibody fusion protein with CD3-ζ chain as a signalling moiety. CAR expression by gene-modified NK cells facilitated effective recognition and elimination of established GD2 expressing NB cells, which were resistant to parental NK-92. In the case of intrinsically NK-sensitive NB cell lines, we observed markedly increased cell killing activity of retargeted NK-92 cells. Enhanced cell killing was strictly dependent on specific recognition of the target antigen and could be blocked by GD2-specific antibody or anti-idiotypic antibody occupying the CAR's cell recognition domain. Importantly, strongly enhanced cytotoxicity of the GD2-specific NK cells was also found against primary NB cells and GD2 expressing tumour cells of other origins, demonstrating the potential clinical utility of the retargeted effector cells.

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