The combination of the synthetic TLR9 ligand CpG and agnostic OX40 antibody can trigger systemic antitumor immune responses upon co-injection into the tumor microenvironment, eradicating simultaneous untreated sites of metastatic disease. Here we explore the application of this in situ immunotherapy to the neoadjuvant setting. Current neoadjuvant checkpoint blockade therapy is delivered systemically, resulting in off-target adverse effects. In contrast, intratumoral immunotherapy minimizes the potential for toxicities and allows for greater development of combination therapies. In two metastatic solid tumor models, neoadjuvant intratumoral immunotherapy generated a local T-cell antitumor response that then acted systemically to attack cancer throughout the body. In addition, the importance of timing between neoadjuvant immunotherapy and surgical resection was established, as well as the increased therapeutic power of adding systemic anti-PD1 antibody. The combination of local and systemic immunotherapy generated an additional survival benefit due to synergistic inhibitory effect on tumor-associated macrophages. These results provide a strong rationale for translating this neoadjuvant intratumoral immunotherapy to the clinical setting, especially in conjunction with established checkpoint inhibitors.

Significance:

This work demonstrates the ability of neoadjuvant intratumoral immunotherapy to target local and distant metastatic disease and consequently improve survival.

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