Adoptive cell therapy involves the infusion of tumor-reactive T cells into patients with cancer to provide antitumor immunity. The ex vivo expansion and differentiation of such T cells are key parameters that affect their therapeutic potential. Human T cells are presently expanded in culture through the use of anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 mAbs immobilized on beads, expressed on cells, or assembled in the context of soluble antibody complexes. Here we report the design of a small, bispecific single-chain variable fragment construct agonizing both CD3 and CD28 pathways. This soluble T cell expansion protein, termed T-CEP, activates, expands, and differentiates human T cells ex vivo at concentrations in the femtomolar range. Importantly, T-CEP promotes the preferential growth of human CD8+ T cells over the course of 12 days in comparison with methods involving immobilized anti-CD3 mAb/soluble anti-CD28 mAb or soluble anti-CD3/CD28 mAb complexes. The differentiation profile of the resulting human T cell population is also singularly affected by T-CEP, favoring the expansion of a preferred CD8+CD27+ T cell phenotype. The activity profile of T-CEP on human T cells ex vivo suggests its use in generating human T cell populations that are more suited for adoptive cell therapy.
Esther I. Matus, Amanda Sparkes, Jean Gariépy
Design and purification of T-CEP.