This Phase II proposal is a continuation of our Phase I award, "Lentiviral Vectors for TCR Immunotherapy Targeted to Melanoma." We have successfully achieved the milestones laid out in our initial application. We generated a lentiviral gene vector capable of expressing a T cell receptor (TCR) specific for the tyrosinase:368-376 epitope, and demonstrated the activity of this cloned TCR in in vitro and in vivo models. The targeting of the melanoma-associated differentiation antigen by T cells transduced with this specific TCR will create a new therapeutic option for patients with melanoma. According to the American Cancer Society melanoma is currently the sixth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common cancer in American women. In this proposal we will generate clinical grade TCR vector, transduce patient-derived T cells, and then initiate a phase I clinical trial to evaluate the safety of this procedure. Recent findings from the NCI indicate that a transient lymphopenia induced by chemotherapy is essential for therapeutic effect. The trial we propose will be the first to try this procedure outside of the confines of the NCI, and will establish a new paradigm for the treatment of melanoma in the hospital setting. Secondarily this grant will move product development for the lentiviral vector expressing this TCR another step forward in the critical path of product development, and further key corporate goals of Lentigen to become the leader in clinical application of lentiviral vector technology. It is clear that immunotherapy will be a key feature for effective control of melanoma, a type of tumor for which current therapies do not offer satisfactory results. Lentiviral vectors have been evaluated in Phase I trials in HIV/AIDS. This proposal will be the first to use lentiviral technology in the treatment of melanoma. Our milestones will be 1) To generate GMP grade lentiviral vector, establishing release criteria for clinical use, and 2) to transduce patient T cells with this vector and infuse them according to our phase I FDA clinical trial- designed to evaluate the safety of transduced T cell infusion in lymphodepleted patients. In summary, Lentigen Corp. along with Dr. Michael Nishimura and his clinical team at the Medical University of South Carolina are uniquely positioned to provide a comprehensive evaluation of engineered human T cells in a clinical setting that can be generalized to other centers treating this life-threatening malignancy.
The goal of this proposal is to develop a novel and improved immunotherapy for melanoma, a tumor for which current therapies do not offer satisfactory results. This therapy will feature the activation of immune cells that will be manipulated in the laboratory and infused back into the patient in order to eliminate melanoma tumor cells. Because of its great potential to offer a solution for those patients failing other therapies, this therapy will have significant relevance for cancer patients with melanoma and health care providers in the United States and worldwide.