Extended half-life target module for sustainable UniCAR T-cell treatment of STn-expressing cancers

Liliana R. Loureiro, Anja Feldmann, Ralf Bergmann, Stefanie Koristka, Nicole Berndt, Domokos Máthé, Nikolett Hegedüs, Krisztián Szigeti, Paula A. Videira, Michael Bachmann, Claudia Arndt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Adapter chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) approaches have emerged has promising strategies to increase clinical safety of CAR T-cell therapy. In the UniCAR system, the safety switch is controlled via a target module (TM) which is characterized by a small-size and short half-life. The rapid clearance of these TMs from the blood allows a quick steering and self-limiting safety switch of UniCAR T-cells by TM dosing. This is mainly important during onset of therapy when tumor burden and the risk for severe side effects are high. For long-term UniCAR therapy, the continuous infusion of TMs may not be an optimal setting for the patients. Thus, in later stages of treatment, single infusions of TMs with an increased half-life might play an important role in long-term surveillance and eradication of residual tumor cells. Given this, we aimed to develop and characterize a novel TM with extended half-life targeting the tumor-associated carbohydrate sialyl-Tn (STn). Methods: The extended half-life TM is composed of the STn-specific single-chain variable fragment (scFv) and the UniCAR epitope, fused to the hinge region and Fc domain of a human immunoglobulin 4 (IgG4) antibody. Specific binding and functionality of the αSTn-IgG4 TM as well as pharmacokinetic features were assessed using in vitro and in vivo assays and compared to the already established small-sized αSTn TM. Results: The novel αSTn-IgG4 TM efficiently activates and redirects UniCAR T-cells to STn-expressing tumors in a target-specific and TM-dependent manner, thereby promoting the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and tumor cell lysis in vitro and in experimental mice. Moreover, PET-imaging results demonstrate the specific enrichment of the αSTn-IgG4 TM at the tumor site, while presenting a prolonged serum half-life compared to the short-lived αSTn TM. Conclusion: In a clinical setting, the combination of TMs with different formats and pharmacokinetics may represent a promising strategy for retargeting of UniCAR T-cells in a flexible, individualized and safe manner at particular stages of therapy. Furthermore, as these molecules can be used for in vivo imaging, they pose as attractive candidates for theranostic approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2020


  • IgG4-based TM
  • Immunotherapy
  • Sialyl-Tn (STn)
  • UniCAR T-cells


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