Product(s) used in this publication: PepTrack™ Peptide Libraries
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a known cause of cervical cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and laryngeal cancer. Although treatments exist for HPV-associated malignancies, patients unresponsive to these therapies have a poor prognosis. Recent findings from vaccine studies suggest that T-cell immunity is essential for disease control. Because Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)-specific T cells have been highly successful in treating or preventing EBV-associated tumors, we hypothesized that the development of a manufacturing platform for HPV-specific T cells from healthy donors could be used in a third-party setting to treat patients with high-risk/relapsed HPV-associated cancers. Most protocols for generating virus-specific T cells require prior exposure of the donor to the targeted virus and, because the seroprevalence of high-risk HPV types varies greatly by age and ethnicity, manufacturing of donor-derived HPV-specific T cells has proven challenging. We, therefore, made systematic changes to our current Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-compliant protocols to improve antigen presentation, priming and expansion for the manufacture of high-efficacy HPV-specific T cells. Like others, we found that current methodologies fail to expand HPV-specific T cells from most healthy donors. By optimizing dendritic cell maturation and function with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon (IFN)γ, adding interleukin (IL)-21 during priming and depleting memory T cells, we achieved reliable expansion of T cells specific for oncoproteins E6 and E7 to clinically relevant amounts (mean, 578-fold expansion; n = 10), which were polyfunctional based on cytokine multiplex analysis. In the third-party setting, such HPV-specific T-cell products might serve as a potent salvage therapy for patients with HPV-associated diseases.