T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) have demonstrated remarkable clinical benefit in certain hematological malignancies albeit with side effect such as cytokine release syndrome, on Target off tumor response and limited efficacy in solid tumors. Here, we present the preclinical evaluation of a novel T cell engineering platform designed to overcome potential hurdles of CARs and other T cell receptor modalities. Specifically, we have generated novel T Cell Receptor Fusion Constructs (TRuC™s) that fuse binder domains to subunits of the T cell receptor. These constructs when introduced using lentiviral technology, integrate into endogenous TCR, reprograming T cells to target tumor antigen in a non-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restricted fashion and harnessing the full spectrum of TCR signaling. TRuC™ variants were constructed by recombinant fusion of an scFv or sdAb to various TCR subunits via a flexible linker sequence. Likewise, CD28ζ and 41BBζ CARs were generated using the same binders for side-by-side comparison. We demonstrated that TRuC™ variants can effectively reprogram T cells to recognize tumor surface antigens in a non-MHC-restricted fashion. TRuC™s are distinct from CARs in their ability to activate T cells through the entire TCR without additional costimulatory domains. In vitro, TRuC™ T cells were equally potent as CAR T cells in eliminating tumor cells. Compared to CAR-T cells, TRuC-T cells produced lower cytokine levels and proliferated less. Despite these difference, TRuC™ T cells were more efficient in clearing tumors in subcutaneous Raji and MSTO-211H mesothelioma models. Our findings support the development of TRuC-T cells for the treatment of solid tumors.

Citation Format: Ekta Patel, Jian Ding, Nikolaus Thorausch, Janani Krishnamurthy, Rashmi Choudhary, Solly Weiler, Bonnie Le, Patrick Tavares, Adam Zieba, Justin Quinn, Yan Wang, Wolfgang Schamel, Irene Scarfo, Marcela Maus, Patrick Baeuerle, Dainel Getts, Robert Hofmeister. Characterization of a novel class of engineered (TCR) fusion constructs (TRuCTMs) aimed to treat solid tumors [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 3584.