An Oncolytic Virus Expressing a T-cell Engager Simultaneously Targets Cancer and Immunosuppressive Stromal Cells

Effective immunotherapy of stromal-rich tumors requires simultaneous targeting of cancer cells and immunosuppressive elements of the microenvironment. Here, we modified the oncolytic group B adenovirus enadenotucirev to express a stroma-targeted bispecific T-cell engager (BiTE). This BiTE bound fibroblast activation protein on cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) and CD3ε on T cells, leading to potent T-cell activation and fibroblast death. Treatment of fresh clinical biopsies, including malignant ascites and solid prostate cancer tissue, with FAP-BiTE–encoding virus induced activation of tumor-infiltrating PD1+ T cells to kill CAFs. In ascites, this led to depletion of CAF-associated immunosuppressive factors, upregulation of proinflammatory cytokines, and increased gene expression of markers of antigen presentation, T-cell function, and trafficking. M2-like ascites macrophages exhibited a proinflammatory repolarization, indicating spectrum-wide alteration of the tumor microenvironment. With this approach, we have actively killed both cancer cells and tumor fibroblasts, reversing CAF-mediated immunosuppression and yielding a potent single-agent therapeutic that is ready for clinical assessment.

Significance: An engineered oncolytic adenovirus that encodes a bispecific antibody combines direct virolysis with endogenous T-cell activation to attack stromal fibroblasts, providing a multimodal treatment strategy within a single therapeutic agent.

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