Adoptive cell transfer (ACT) of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) targeting neoantigens can mediate tumor regression in selected patients with metastatic epithelial cancer. However, effectively identifying and harnessing neoantigen-reactive T cells for patient treatment remains a challenge and it is unknown whether current methods to detect neoantigen-reactive T cells are missing potentially clinically relevant neoantigen reactivities. We thus investigated whether the detection of neoantigen-reactive TILs could be enhanced by enriching T cells that express PD-1 and/or T cell activation markers followed by microwell culturing to avoid overgrowth of nonreactive T cells. In 6 patients with metastatic epithelial cancer, this method led to the detection of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells targeting 18 and 1 neoantigens, respectively, compared with 6 and 2 neoantigens recognized by CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, respectively, when using our standard TIL fragment screening approach. In 2 patients, no recognition of mutated peptides was observed using our conventional screen, while our high-throughput approach led to the identification of 5 neoantigen-reactive T cell receptors (TCRs) against 5 different mutations from one patient and a highly potent MHC class II–restricted KRASG12V-reactive TCR from a second patient. In addition, in a metastatic tumor sample from a patient with serous ovarian cancer, we isolated 3 MHC class II–restricted TCRs targeting the TP53G245S hot-spot mutation. In conclusion, this approach provides a highly sensitive platform to isolate clinically relevant neoantigen-reactive T cells or their TCRs for cancer treatment.
Rami Yossef, Eric Tran, Drew C. Deniger, Alena Gros, Anna Pasetto, Maria R. Parkhurst, Jared J. Gartner, Todd D. Prickett, Gal Cafri, Paul F. Robbins, Steven A. Rosenberg
Illustration of the new high-throughput approach for enrichment, culturing, and screening strategy of TILs.