Exploiting Preexisting Immunity to Enhance Oncolytic Cancer Immunotherapy

Siri Tähtinen, Sara Feola, Cristian Capasso, Netta Laustio, Christianne Groeneveldt, Erkko O. Ylösmäki, Leena Ylösmäki, Beatriz Martins, Manlio Fusciello, Marta Medeot, Maria Tagliamonte, Jacopo Chiaro, Firas Hamdan, Karita Peltonen, Tuuli Ranki, Luigi Buonaguro, Vincenzo Cerullo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because of the high coverage of international vaccination programs, most people worldwide have been vaccinated against common pathogens, leading to acquired pathogen-specific immunity with a robust memory T-cell repertoire. Although CD8+ antitumor cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are the preferred effectors of cancer immunotherapy, CD4+ T-cell help is also required for an optimal antitumor immune response to occur. Hence, we investigated whether the pathogen-related CD4+ T-cell memory populations could be reengaged to support the CTLs, converting a weak primary antitumor immune response into a stronger secondary one. To this end, we used our PeptiCRAd technology that consists of an oncolytic adenovirus coated with MHC-I-restricted tumor-specific peptides and developed it further by introducing pathogen-specific MHC-II-restricted peptides. Mice preimmunized with tetanus vaccine were challenged with B16.OVA tumors and treated with the newly developed hybrid TT-OVA-PeptiCRAd containing both tetanus toxoid- and tumor-specific peptides. Treatment with the hybrid PeptiCRAd significantly enhanced antitumor efficacy and induced TT-specific, CD40 ligand-expressing CD4+ T helper cells and maturation of antigen-presenting cells. Importantly, this approach could be extended to naturally occurring tumor peptides (both tumor-associated antigens and neoantigens), as well as to other pathogens beyond tetanus, highlighting the usefulness of this technique to take full advantage of CD4+ memory T-cell repertoires when designing immunotherapeutic treatment regimens. Finally, the antitumor effect was even more prominent when combined with the immune checkpoint inhibitor anti-PD-1, strengthening the rationale behind combination therapy with oncolytic viruses. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings establish a novel technology that enhances oncolytic cancer immunotherapy by capitalizing on pre-acquired immunity to pathogens to convert a weak antitumor immune response into a much stronger one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2575-2585
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploiting Preexisting Immunity to Enhance Oncolytic Cancer Immunotherapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this