Brief Communication

Improving therapeutic efficacy of IL-12 intratumoral gene electrotransfer through novel plasmid design and modified parameters

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The use of immunomodulatory cytokines has been shown effective in regressing a wide range of tumors. However, systemic delivery of recombinant cytokines results in serious, potentially life-threatening, adverse effects. By contrast, nucleic acid transfer via electroporation (EP) is a safe and effective method of delivering plasmid-encoded cytokines to tumors. Intratumoral delivery of IL-12 plasmid DNA by electroporation (IT-pIL12-EP) produced objective response rates in Phase 2 clinical trials in metastatic melanoma. However, only 17.9% of patients receiving IT-pIL12-EP show a complete therapeutic response. Here, we sought to improve the antitumor efficacy of our clinical IT-pIL12-EP plasmid electroporation platform. We evaluated multiple plasmid designs for IL-12 expression. IL-12 expression from a plasmid incorporating a picornavirus-derived co-translational P2A site was the most effective in expressing IL-12p70. In addition, modifying the electroporation parameters improved transfection efficiency and expression of plasmid-derived IL-12p70, as well as its downstream effector IFN-γ in vivo. Finally, using a murine melanoma model that is representative of the intended target patient population, we show that combining modified electroporation conditions with the pIL12-P2A plasmid expression enhances the systemic antitumor response. These improvements to the IT-pIL12-EP platform may improve patient clinical response rates and survival when translated to clinical trials.

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Author information


  1. Oncosec Medical Inc., 5820 Nancy Ridge Drive, San Diego, CA, 92121, USA

    • C. Burkart
    • , A. Mukhopadhyay
    • , S. A. Shirley
    • , J. H. Wright
    • , A. Bahrami
    •  & D. A. Canton
  2. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue N., Seattle, WA, 98109, USA

    • R. J. Connolly
    • , J. S. Campbell
    •  & R. H. Pierce


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Conflict of interest

All authors are past or present employees of Oncosec Medical Inc. Dr. Canton, Dr. Connolly, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Bahrami, and Dr. Pierce are inventors of patents, pending and published.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to D. A. Canton.

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