Therapeutic vaccination based on side population cells transduced by the granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor gene elicits potent antitumor immunity

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Among cancer immunotherapies, granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) gene-transduced tumor cell vaccine (GVAX) therapies appear promising and have been shown to be safe and effective in multiple clinical trials. However, the antitumor efficacies of GVAX therapy alone are in some cases limited. Here we showed that GVAX therapy targeting cancer stem cells (CSCs) substantially suppressed tumor development in syngeneic immunocompetent mice recapitulating normal immune systems. CSCs were isolated as side population (SP) cells from 4T1 murine breast carcinoma cell line and transduced with GM-CSF gene delivered by non-transmissible Sendai virus (4T1-SP/GM). Impaired tumorigenicity of subcutaneously injected 4T1-SP/GM depended on CD8+ T cells in concert with CD4+ T cells and natural killer cells. Mice therapeutically vaccinated with irradiated 4T1-SP/GM cells had markedly suppressed tumor development of subcutaneously transplanted 4T1-SP cells compared with those treated with irradiated cells of non-transduced 4T1-SP cells or non-SP (4T1-NSP/GM) cells. Tumor suppression was accompanied by the robust accumulation of mature dendritic cells at vaccination sites and T-helper type 1-skewed systemic cellular immunity. Our results suggested that CSC cell-based GVAX immunotherapy might be clinically useful for inducing potent tumor-specific antitumor immunity.

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We thank Dr Kaori Yasuda and Dr Atsushi Doi (Cell Innovator) for their technical support in the microarray gene expression analysis. We also thank Michiko Ushijima, Haruka Yamato and the members of Dr Kenzaburo Tani’s laboratory for providing constructive criticism and technical assistance.

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Correspondence to K Tani.

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KT receives research funding from SBI Pharmaceutical and Shinnihonseiyaku to develop novel cancer therapies. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the University of Tokyo in accordance with its conflict of interest policies. The other authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on Cancer Gene Therapy website

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