Significant clinical and pre-clinical research has shown that PAMPs- Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns- can trigger an integrated anti-cancer immune response involving both innate and adaptive immunity. Imprime PGG is a soluble yeast β-1,3/1,6 glucan currently in multiple phase 2 clinical studies in combination with the immune checkpoint inhibitor (CPI), pembrolizumab. Preclinical mechanistic research has shown that Imprime PGG can re-polarize immunosuppressive myeloid cells in the tumor microenvironment and activate antigen presenting cells to prime antigen-specific CD8 T cells thereby boosting effector T cell function and expansion. Based on this ability to activate dendritic cells and induce type I interferon, we sought to explore the use of Imprime as an immune activating/antigen-directing scaffold onto which we could attach tumor antigen to drive an antigen-specific T cell based immune response. Imprime PGG has been safely administered intravenously to more than 400 human subjects and thus represents a safe starting point for the development of a cancer vaccine. Imprime’s 1,3/1,6 β-glucan polymeric structure allows for the straightforward attachment of peptides and proteins via three different conjugation routes. To explore this function we covalently linked the chicken ovalbumin (OVA) protein to Imprime to generate a β-glucan-protein conjugate (Imprime-OVA). Using T cell receptor transgenic OT-I CD8 and OT-II CD4 T cells to track responses to OVA, we treated mice with Imprime-OVA intravenously and examined the expansion and functional quality of the T cell response 7 days later at the peak of expansion. Following Imprime-OVA treatment, both OVA-specific CD8 and CD4 T cells underwent vigorous expansion. OT-I CD8 T cells upregulated the transcription factor Tbet, which is central to developing effector functions, and were highly multifunctional in their ability to produce IFN-γ, TNF-α and IL-2. OT-I T cells responded similarly to vaccination with the minimal H-2Kb/OVA257-264 peptide covalently attached to Imprime. By comparison, vaccination with unconjugated OVA (protein or peptide) and Imprime was much less effective in driving T cell expansion and differentiation. The CD8 T cell response required Batf3-dependent cross-presenting DCs whereas the CD4 T cell response did not, and both CD4 and CD8 responses required the C-type lectin receptor Dectin-1. These data show that an Imprime PGG-protein conjugate can effectively elicit the expansion and functional activation of cytotoxic T cells and may have utility as a potential cancer vaccine platform. These data provide evidence that Imprime PGG not only serves as a combination therapy for CPIs, anti-angiogenics, and tumor targeting antibodies but may also be a robust platform for multiple tumor vaccine strategies.

Citation Format: Kyle S. Michel, Ross B. Fulton, Steven M. Leonardo, Keith B. Gorden, Jeremy R. Graff, Michael E. Danielson. A novel tumor vaccine platform: direct conjugation of antigens to the β glucan PAMP Imprime PGG enhances antigen presentation and T cell priming [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017; 2017 Apr 1-5; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2017;77(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 1703. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2017-1703