Recent years have witnessed an increased incidence of pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Pancreatic tumors are poorly immunogenic; current immunotherapeutic strategies largely focus on boosting adaptive immunity while ignoring immunosuppressed innate immune players such as natural killer cells (NKs). NK cells respond to tumor insults by generating IFN-γ for T-cell activation. Multiple studies suggest that tumor cells evade NK cell-mediated killing by 1) developing “escape variants” and 2) regulating inhibitory and activating receptors on NK cells, imparting anergic/exhaustive phenotype inside the pancreatic tumor microenvironment. We posit that a therapeutic combination that not only overturns tumor-mediated NKs dysfunction but also boosts cytotoxic CD8 T cells will provide long-lasting therapeutic benefits in PDAC. Given this, we explored the efficacy of a unique therapeutic combination, tumor antigen-targeted IgE antibody (humanized anti-MUC1.IgE) in combination of anti-PD-L1 (for relieving T-cell exhaustion) and PolyICLC (for dendritic cell maturation) in a preclinical model of pancreatic cancer using mice transgenic for human MUC1 and FcϵRI (hMUC1/hFcϵRI). This therapeutic combination induced MUC1 specific rejection of two different human MUC1-expressing pancreatic tumor cell lines (Panc02.MUC1, KPC.MUC1) and prolonged the overall survival of mice challenged with subcutaneous and orthotopic tumors as compared to control counterparts. Additionally, this combination generated CD8 T-cell memory response as evidenced by MUC1 specific rejection/delays of tumors in mice rechallenged with MUC1-expressing tumors. Cytokine/chemokine profiling of anti-MUC1.IgE+anti-PD-L1+PolyICLC treated tumors further demonstrates a reduction in proinflammatory cytokines as compared to control counterparts. Most importantly, NK and CD8 T cells were involved in cell-mediated antitumor responses, as in vivo depletion of these subtypes abrogated the tumor-protective benefits in mice bearing orthotopic tumors. Anti-MUC1.IgE+anti-PD-L1+PolyICLC combination appears to increase circulating NKs and reverse NK cell exhaustion inside pancreatic tumor microenvironment. Additional data suggest that this therapeutic combination boosts tumor cell killing by NK cells in antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity assays (ADCC). In sum, this is the first study to show that specific stimulation of IgE/FcϵRI axis in combination with PolyICLC and anti-PD-L1 can activate both CD8 T and NK cell effector pathways and provide long-lasting tumor-protective benefits against pancreatic cancer.

This abstract is also being presented as Poster A48.

Citation Format: Kamiya Mehla, Thomas C. Caffrey, Kelly A. O'Connel, Raghupathy Madiyalakan, Christopher F. Nicodemus, Michael A. Hollingsworth. A novel NK cell-targeted therapeutic strategy against pancreatic cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference on Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy; 2018 Nov 27-30; Miami Beach, FL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Immunol Res 2020;8(4 Suppl):Abstract nr PR15.