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Switchable immune modulator for tumor-specific activation of anticancer immunity

Yu Zhao, Yu-Qing Xie, Simon Van Herck, Sina Nassiri, Min Gao, Yugang Guo,

Abstract: Immune stimulatory antibodies and cytokines elicit potent antitumor immunity. However, the dose-limiting systemic toxicity greatly hinders their clinical applications. Here, we demonstrate a chemical approach, termed “switchable” immune modulator (Sw-IM), to limit the systemic exposure and therefore ameliorate their toxicities. Sw-IM is a biomacromolecular therapeutic reversibly masked by biocompatible polymers through chemical linkers that are responsive to tumor-specific stimuli, such as high reducing potential and acidic pH. Sw-IMs stay inert (switch off) in the circulation and healthy tissues but get reactivated (switch on) selectively in tumor via responsive removal of the polymer masks, thus focusing the immune boosting activities in the tumor microenvironment. Sw-IMs applied to anti–4-1BB agonistic antibody and IL-15 cytokine led to equivalent antitumor efficacy to the parental IMs with markedly reduced toxicities. Sw-IM provides a highly modular and generic approach to improve the therapeutic window and clinical applicability of potent IMs in mono- and combinational immunotherapies.
Keywords: antibody / antitumor / toxicities / systemic / switch / modulator / efficacy / IMs

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