Immune checkpoint(s) blockade is becoming the therapeutic mainstay in melanoma and lung cancer. Based on these important clinical achievements, immunotherapy with immunomodulating monoclonal antibodies (mAb) is being explored as a new therapeutic modality in most human malignancies, either alone or in combination with other immunomodulating agents. We have provided extensive evidence that the second generation DNA hypomethylating agent (DHA), guadecitabine (SGI-110), plays a promising role in potentiating the immunogenicity
and the immune recognition of human malignancies through the up-regulation of the expression of different immune molecules on cancer cells. These findings led us to hypothesize that DHA could represent ideal partners for immune checkpoint(s) blocking agents to improve their therapeutic efficacy. Here, we studied the expression of programmed death 1 (PD-1), programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), and 2 (PD-L2), and cytotoxic T lymphocyteassociated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients (N=23), enrolled in a phase 1-2 study with guadecitabine. Patients included in this preliminary analysis were selected based on their responsiveness to therapy. Quantitative RT-PCR analyses showed a constitutive expression
(gene/β-actin molecules >7.5E-05) of PD1, PD-L1, PD-L2 and CTLA-4 in 82.6%, 100%, 47.8% and 8.7% patients, respectively.
Guadecitabine therapy up-regulated (≥2 fold) the expression of PD1, PD-L1, PD-L2 and CTLA-4 in 57.9%, 56.5%, 18.2% and 0% patients, respectively, at any of the time-points investigated during treatment. De novo expression of PD1, PD-L2 and CTLA-4 was observed in 100%, 41.6% and 38.1% of the immune checkpoint(s)-negative patients, respectively.
Though preliminary, these results further support the strong link between epigenetics/DNA methylation and immune response, in cancer patients, and strengthen the therapeutic potential of igenetic immunomodulation, with “consolidated” and emerging immune checkpoint(s) blocking mAb.
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2016 AACR: Immune checkpoint(s) expression in AML pts enrolled in phase 1-2 study with guadecitabine