N-803 is an IL15 receptor superagonist complex, designed to optimize in vivo persistence and trans-presentation, thereby activating and expanding natural killer (NK) cells and CD8+ T cells. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) direct Fc receptor–bearing immune cells, including NK cells, to recognize and eliminate cancer targets. The ability of IL15R agonists to enhance tumor-targeting mAbs in patients has not been reported previously.
Relapsed/refractory patients with indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma were treated with rituximab and intravenous or subcutaneous N-803 on an open-label, dose-escalation phase I study using a 3+3 design (NCT02384954). Primary endpoint was maximum tolerated dose. Immune correlates were performed using multidimensional analysis via mass cytometry and cellular indexing of transcriptomes and epitopes by sequencing (CITE-seq) which simultaneously measures protein and single-cell RNA expression.
This immunotherapy combination was safe and well tolerated and resulted in durable clinical responses including in rituximab-refractory patients. Subcutaneous N-803 plus rituximab induced sustained proliferation, expansion, and activation of peripheral blood NK cells and CD8 T cells, with increased NK cell and T cells present 8 weeks following last N-803 treatment. CITE-seq revealed a therapy-altered NK cell molecular program, including enhancement of AP-1 transcription factor. Furthermore, the monocyte transcriptional program was remodeled with enhanced MHC expression and antigen-presentation genes.
N-803 combines with mAbs to enhance tumor targeting in patients, and warrants further investigation in combination with immunotherapies.