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pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma exomes in study: Pro-immunogenic Impact of MEK inhibition combined with an anti-CD40 immunostimulatory antibody

Cancer types with lower mutational load and a non-permissive tumor microenvironment are intrinsically resistant to immune checkpoint blockade. While the combination of cytostatic drugs and immunostimulatory antibodies constitutes an attractive concept for overcoming this refractoriness, suppression of immune cell function by cytostatic drugs may limit therapeutic efficacy. Here we show that targeted inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase (MEK) does not impair dendritic cell-mediated T-cell priming and activation. Accordingly, combining MEK inhibitors (MEKi) with agonist antibodies (Abs) targeting the immunostimulatory CD40 receptor resulted in potent synergistic anti-tumor efficacy. Detailed analysis of the mechanism of action of MEKi GDC-0623 by means of flow cytometric analysis of the tumor immune infiltrate and whole tumor transcriptomics showed that, in addition to its cytostatic impact on tumor cells, this drug exerts multiple pro-immunogenic effects, including the suppression of M2-type macrophages, myeloid derived suppressor cells and CD4+ T-regulatory cells. In addition, MEKi was found to induce tumor-cell intrinsic interferon signaling, which contributed to antigen presentation by tumor cells. Finally, the tumoridical impact of MEKi involves the activation of multiple pro-inflammatory pathways involved in immune cell effector function in the tumor microenvironment. Our data therefore indicate that the combination of MEK inhibition with agonist anti-CD40 Ab is a promising therapeutic concept, especially for the treatment of mutant Kras-driven tumors such as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. The pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma exomes were generated in the context of the Heidelberg Center for Personalized Oncology project HIPO-K28E.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001005938 Illumina HiSeq 2500 6
Publications Citations
Proimmunogenic impact of MEK inhibition synergizes with agonist anti-CD40 immunostimulatory antibodies in tumor therapy.
Nat Commun 11: 2020 2176