Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the leading cause of gynaecological cancer-related death in Europe. Although most patients achieve an initial complete response with first-line treatment, recurrence occurs in more than 80% of cases. Thus, there is a clear unmet need for novel second-line treatments. EOC is frequently infiltrated with T lymphocytes, the presence of which has been shown to be associated with improved clinical outcomes. Adoptive T-cell therapy (ACT) using ex vivo-expanded tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) has shown remarkable efficacy in other immunogenic tumours, and may represent a promising therapeutic strategy for EOC. In this preclinical study, we investigated the efficacy of using anti-CD3/anti-CD28 magnetic beads and IL-2 to expand TILs from freshly resected ovarian tumours. TILs were expanded for up to 3 weeks, and then subjected to a rapid-expansion protocol (REP) using irradiated feeder cells. Tumours were collected from 45 patients with EOC and TILs were successfully expanded from 89.7% of biopsies. Expanded CD4+ and CD8+ subsets demonstrated features associated with memory phenotypes, and had significantly higher expression of key activation and functional markers than unexpanded TILs. Expanded TILs produced anti-tumour cytokines when co-cultured with autologous tumour cells, inferring tumour cytotoxicity. Our findings demonstrate that it is possible to re-activate and expand tumour-reactive T cells from ovarian tumours. This presents a promising immunotherapy that could be used sequentially or in combination with current therapeutic strategies.
Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms
- Manchester Cancer Research Centre