Co-transplantation of human hematopoietic stem cells and human breast cancer cells in NSG mice: A novel approach to generate tumor cell specific human antibodies

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Humanized tumor mice (HTM) were generated by the co-transplantation of human hematopoietic stem cells and human breast cancer cells overexpressing HER2 into neonatal NOD-scid IL2Rγnull (NSG) mice. These mice are characterized by the development of a human immune system in combination with human breast cancer growth. Due to concurrent transplantation into newborn mice, transfer of MHC-mismatched tumor cells resulted in solid coexistence and immune cell activation (CD4+ T cells, natural killer cells, and myeloid cells), but without evidence for rejection. Histological staining of the spleen of HTM revealed co-localization of human antigen-presenting cells together with human T and B cells allowing MHC-dependent interaction, and thereby the generation of T cell-dependent antibody production. Here, we investigated the capability of these mice to generate human tumor-specific antibodies and correlated immunoglobulin titers with tumor outgrowth. We found detectable IgM and also IgG amounts in the serum of HTM, which apparently controlled tumor development when IgG serum concentrations were above 10 μg/ml. Western blot analyses revealed that the tumor-specific antibodies generated in HTM did not recognize HER2/neu antigens, but different, possibly relevant antigens for breast cancer therapy. In conclusion, HTM offer a novel approach to generate complete human monoclonal antibodies that do not require further genetic manipulation (e.g., humanization) for a potential application in humans. In addition, efficacy and safety of the generated antibodies can be tested in the same mouse model under human-like conditions. This might be of particular interest for cancer subtypes with no currently available antibody therapy.

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