Validation and promise of a TCR mimic antibody for cancer immunotherapy of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Sci Rep, Volume 12, Issue 1, p.12068 (2022)


alpha-Fetoproteins, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Carcinoma, Hepatocellular, Humans, Immunotherapy, Liver Neoplasms, Peptides, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell


<p>Monoclonal antibodies are at the vanguard of the most promising cancer treatments. Whereas traditional therapeutic antibodies have been limited to extracellular antigens, T cell receptor mimic (TCRm) antibodies can target intracellular antigens presented by cell surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins. TCRm antibodies can therefore target a repertoire of otherwise undruggable cancer antigens. However, the consequences of off-target peptide/MHC recognition with engineered T cell therapies are severe, and thus there are significant safety concerns with TCRm antibodies. Here we explored the specificity and safety profile of a new TCRm-based T cell therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a solid tumor for which no effective treatment exists. We targeted an alpha-fetoprotein peptide presented by HLA-A*02 with a highly specific TCRm, which crystallographic structural analysis showed binds directly over the HLA protein and interfaces with the full length of the peptide. We fused the TCRm to the γ and δ subunits of a TCR, producing a signaling AbTCR construct. This was combined with an scFv/CD28 co-stimulatory molecule targeting glypican-3 for increased efficacy towards tumor cells. This AbTCR&thinsp;+&thinsp;co-stimulatory T cell therapy showed potent activity against AFP-positive cancer cell lines in vitro and an in an in vivo model and undetectable activity against AFP-negative cells. In an in-human safety assessment, no significant adverse events or cytokine release syndrome were observed and evidence of efficacy was seen. Remarkably, one patient with metastatic HCC achieved a complete remission after nine months and ultimately qualified for a liver transplant.</p>

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