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As small as it can be: short peptide-derived target molecules for redirection of UniCAR T-cells and imaging of SSTR2-expressing cancers

Loureiro, L. R.; Bergmann, R.; Wodtke, R.; Brandt, F.; Arndt, C.; González Soto, K. E.; Mitwasi, N.; Kegler, A.; Bartsch, T.; Drewitz, L.; Máthé, D.; Feldmann, A.; Bachmann, M.


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells are undoubtedly a promising approach in cancer immunotherapy. Nevertheless, mild to severe toxicities are associated with this approach including on-target/off-tumor effects and cytokine release syndrome. Aiming for increased clinical safety, adaptor CAR technologies were developed which include the modular universal CAR (UniCAR) platform developed by our group. UniCAR T-cells are exclusively activated in the presence of a target module (TM), which establishes the cross-link between cancer cells and UniCAR T-cells. These TMs are highly versatile molecules that can be constructed not only by using antibody fragments but also e.g. peptides specifically targeting a receptor or molecule on the cell´s surface. Somatostatin receptor (SSTR) subtype 2 is highly expressed in a variety of malignancies and has therefore been studied as a marker and target for cancer diagnosis and treatment. Currently, SSTR2 agonists and antagonists, such as Tyr3-octreotate (TATE) and BASS or JR11, respectively, are particularly well established and clinically implemented mostly used for diagnostic nuclear medicine. Given this and the proven flexibility and efficacy of the UniCAR system, we hereby aimed to develop small peptide-derived TMs targeting SSTR2 that can be used for both immunotherapeutic and diagnostic approaches. For that, the abovementioned SSTR2 agonist and antagonists were chemically linked to the E5B9 peptide and equipped with the radiometal chelator NODAGA. These TMs were tested in vitro and in vivo, in which they have proven to specifically redirect UniCAR T-cells to human neuroendocrine and breast SSTR2-expressing cancer cells. Furthermore, the enrichment of these anti-SSTR2 peptide TMs at the tumor site was confirmed by positron emission tomography (PET) studies. We hereby designed novel small peptide-derived TMs that can be used for redirection of UniCAR T-cells to SSTR2-expressing cancer cells as well as for PET imaging, proving to be promising and innovative immunotheranostics tools to foster cancer treatment.

  • Open Access Logo Lecture (Conference)
    International Conference on Lymphocyte Engineering: ICLE 2022, 31.03.2022, Munich, Germany



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