Advanced peritoneal carcinomatosis including high-grade ovarian cancer has poor prognoses and a poor response rate to current checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies; thus, there is an unmet need for effective therapeutics that would provide benefit to these patients. Here we present the preclinical development of SENTI-101, a cell preparation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal (also known as stem) cells (MSC), which are engineered to express two potent immune-modulatory cytokines, IL12 and IL21. Intraperitoneal administration of SENTI-101 results in selective tumor-homing and localized and sustained cytokine production in murine models of peritoneal cancer. SENTI-101 has extended half-life, reduced systemic distribution, and improved antitumor activity when compared with recombinant cytokines, suggesting that it is more effective and has lower risk of systemic immunotoxicities. Treatment of tumor-bearing immune-competent mice with a murine surrogate of SENTI-101 (mSENTI-101) results in a potent and localized immune response consistent with increased number and activation of antigen presenting cells, T cells and B cells, which leads to antitumor response and memory-induced long-term immunity. Consistent with this mechanism of action, co-administration of mSENTI-101 with checkpoint inhibitors leads to synergistic improvement in antitumor response. Collectively, these data warrant potential clinical development of SENTI-101 for patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis and high-grade ovarian cancer.

Graphical abstract: SENTI-101 schematic and mechanism of action

SENTI-101 is a novel cell-based immunotherapeutic consisting of bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSC) engineered to express IL12 and IL21 intended for the treatment of peritoneal carcinomatosis including high-grade serous ovarian cancer. Upon intraperitoneal administration, SENTI-101 homes to peritoneal solid tumors and secretes IL12 and IL21 in a localized and sustained fashion. The expression of these two potent cytokines drives tumor infiltration and engagement of multiple components of the immune system: antigen-presenting cells, T cells, and B cells, resulting in durable antitumor immunity in preclinical models of cancer.

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