Priority Research Papers:

Enhanced antitumor effects by combining an IL-12/anti-DNA fusion protein with avelumab, an anti-PD-L1 antibody

Jonathan K. Fallon, Amanda J. Vandeveer, Jeffrey Schlom and John W. Greiner _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:20558-20571. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16137

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Jonathan K. Fallon1, Amanda J. Vandeveer1, Jeffrey Schlom1,* and John W. Greiner1,*

1 Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Jeffrey Schlom, email:

Keywords: checkpoint inhibitor, PD-L1, immunocytokine, interleukin-12, immunotherapy

Received: February 01, 2017 Accepted: March 03, 2017 Published: March 11, 2017


The combined therapeutic potential of an immunocytokine designed to deliver IL-12 to the necrotic regions of solid tumors with an anti-PD-L1 antibody that disrupts the immunosuppressive PD-1/PD-L1 axis yielded a combinatorial benefit in multiple murine tumor models. The murine version of the immunocytokine, NHS-muIL12, consists of an antibody (NHS76) recognizing DNA/DNA-histone complexes, fused with two molecules of murine IL-12 (NHS-muIL12). By its recognition of exposed DNA, NHS-muIL12 targets IL-12 to the necrotic portions of tumors; it has a longer plasma half-life and better antitumor efficacy against murine tumors than recombinant murine IL-12. It is shown here that NHS-muIL12, in an IFN-γ‒dependent mechanism, upregulates mPD-L1 expression on mouse tumors, which could be construed as an immunosuppressive action. Yet concurrent therapy with NHS-muIL12 and an anti-PD-L1 antibody resulted in additive/synergistic antitumor effects in PD-L1‒expressing subcutaneously transplanted tumors (MC38, MB49) and in an intravesical bladder tumor model (MB49). Antitumor efficacy correlated with (a) with a higher frequency of tumor antigen-specific splenic CD8+ T cells and (b) enhanced T cell activation over a wide range of NHS-muIL12 concentrations. These findings suggest that combining NHS-muIL12 and an anti-PD-L1 antibody enhances T cell activation and T cell effector functions within the tumor microenvironment, significantly improving overall tumor regression. These results should provide the rationale to examine the combination of these agents in clinical studies.

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