Research Papers:

Improved therapeutic efficacy of unmodified anti-tumor antibodies by immune checkpoint blockade and kinase targeted therapy in mouse models of melanoma

Rolando Pérez-Lorenzo, Stephanie O. Erjavec, Angela M. Christiano _ and Raphael Clynes

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Oncotarget. 2021; 12:66-80. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27868

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Rolando Pérez-Lorenzo1, Stephanie O. Erjavec1,2, Angela M. Christiano1,2 and Raphael Clynes3

1 Department of Dermatology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA

2 Department of Genetics and Development, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA

3 Department of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA

Correspondence to:

Angela M. Christiano,email: [email protected]

Keywords: anti-tumor antibodies; targeted therapy; immunotherapy; combination therapies; melanoma

Received: August 14, 2020     Accepted: December 29, 2020     Published: January 19, 2021

Copyright: © 2021 Pérez-Lorenzo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


The use of specific anti-tumor antibodies has transformed the solid cancer therapeutics landscape with the relative successes of therapies such as anti-HER2 in breast cancer, and anti-EGFR in HNSCC and colorectal cancer. However, these therapies result in toxicity and the emergence of resistant tumors. Here, we showed that removing immune suppression and enhancing stimulatory signals increased the anti-tumor activity of unmodified TA99 antibodies (anti-TYRP1) with a significant reduction of growth of solid tumors and lung metastases in mouse models of melanoma. Immune checkpoint blockade enhanced the efficacy of TA99, which was associated with greater CD8+/Foxp3+, NK1.1+ and dendritic cell infiltrates, suggestive of an increased anti-tumor innate and adaptive immune responses. Further, MEK inhibition in melanoma cell lines increased the expression of melanosomal antigens in vitro, and combining TA99 and MEKi in vivo resulted in enhanced tumor control. Moreover, we found an improved therapeutic effect when YUMM tumor-bearing mice were treated with TA99 combined with MEKi and immune checkpoint blockade (anti-PD1 and anti-CTLA4). Our findings suggest that MEKi induced an increased expression of tumor-associated antigens, which in combination with anti-tumor antibodies, generated a robust adaptive anti-tumor response that was sustained by immune checkpoint inhibition therapy. We postulate that combining anti-tumor antibodies with standard-of-care strategies such as immune checkpoint blockade or targeted therapy, will improve therapeutic outcomes in cancer.

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