Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit

Aviano, Italy

Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit

Aviano, Italy
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Coral S.,Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit | Parisi G.,University of Siena | Nicolay H.J.M.G.,University of Siena | Colizzi F.,Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit | And 6 more authors.
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy | Year: 2013

Purpose: Pharmacologic DNA hypomethylation holds strong promises in cancer immunotherapy due to its immunomodulatory activity on neoplastic cells. Searching for more efficient DNA hypomethylating agents to be utilized to design novel immunotherapeutic strategies in cancer, we investigated the immunomodulatory properties of the new DNA hypomethylating agent SGI-110, that is resistant to in vivo inactivation by cytidine deaminase. Experimental design: Cutaneous melanoma, mesothelioma, renal cell carcinoma, and sarcoma cells were treated in vitro with SGI-110. RT-PCR, quantitative RT-PCR, quantitative methylation-specific PCR, and flow cytometric analyses were performed to investigate changes induced by SGI-110 in the constitutive immune profile of cancer cells. The recognition by gp100-specific CTL of gp100-positive melanoma cells, treated or not with SGI-110, was tested by LDH release assays. Results: SGI-110 induced/up-regulated the expression of investigated cancer/testis antigens (CTA) (i.e., MAGE-A1, MAGE-A2, MAGE-A3, MAGE-A4, MAGE-A10, GAGE 1-2, GAGE 1-6, NY-ESO-1, and SSX 1-5) in all cancer cell lines studied, both at mRNA and at protein levels. Quantitative methylation-specific PCR analyses identified a hypomethylation of MAGE-A1 and NY-ESO-1 promoters in SGI-110-treated neoplastic cells, demonstrating a direct role of pharmacologic DNA demethylation in CTA induction. SGI-110 also up-regulated the expression of HLA class I antigens and of ICAM-1, resulting in an improved recognition of cancer cells by gp100-specific CTL. Conclusions: Our findings show that SGI-110 is a highly attractive therapeutic agent to comprehensively increase immunogenicity and immune recognition of neoplastic cells, and provide the scientific rationale for its clinical development to design novel chemo-immunotherapeutic approaches in cancer patients. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Fonsatti E.,University of Siena | Maio M.,University of Siena | Maio M.,Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit | Altomonte M.,University of Siena | Hersey P.,Oncology and Immunology Unit
Seminars in Oncology | Year: 2010

CD40 is a costimulatory molecule widely expressed by immune cells and by neoplastic cells of different histotypes. Engagement of surface CD40 mediates different effects depending on cell type and microenvironment. In particular, CD40 expression on immune cells regulates humoral and cellular immunity, while it has apoptotic and antiproliferative activity on selected neoplastic cells. Thus, CD40 targeting may indirectly affect tumor growth through the activation of immune cells and/or directly by mediating cytotoxic effects on neoplastic cells. Preliminary findings emerging from clinical trials indicate that antibodies to CD40 can induce immune modulation and clinical responses in cancer patients. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Maio M.,University of Siena | Covre A.,University of Siena | Fratta E.,Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit | Di Giacomo A.M.,University of Siena | And 4 more authors.
Clinical Cancer Research | Year: 2015

Epigenetic regulation allows heritably modulating gene expression profiles without modifying the primary sequence of gDNA. Under physiologic conditions, epigenetic patterns determine tissue-specific gene expression landscapes, gene imprinting, inactivation of chromosome X, and preservation of genomic stability. The most characterized mediators of epigenetic inheritance are gDNA methylation and histone posttranslational modifications that cooperate to alter chromatin state and genome transcription. According to these notions, it is not surprising that cancer cells invariantly deploy epigenetic alterations to achieve gene expression patterns required for neoplastic transformation and tumor progression. In this context, the recently uncovered use of epigenetic alterations by cancer cells to become stealth from the host's immune recognition has significant immunobiologic relevance in tumor progression, and it appears to have potential clinical usefulness. Indeed, immune evasion is among the major obstacles to further improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies and to increase long-lasting disease control. Luckily, different "epigenetic drugs" able to revert these "epimutations" are available, some of which have already been approved for clinical use. Here, we summarize the immunomodulatory activities of epigenetic drugs that lead to improved immune recognition of cancer cells and focus on the potential of this class of agents in improving the anticancer activity of novel immunotherapies through combinatorial epigenetic immunotherapy approaches. © 2015 American Association for Cancer Research.


Corallini A.,University of Ferrara | Mazzoni E.,University of Ferrara | Taronna A.,University of Ferrara | Manfrini M.,University of Ferrara | And 12 more authors.
Human Immunology | Year: 2012

Simian virus 40 (SV40), a small DNA tumor virus, was inadvertently administered to human populations with the use of contaminated vaccines. SV40 sequences have mainly been detected in healthy individuals and cancer patients using polymerase chain reaction techniques. However, some studies have failed to reveal the presence of SV40 in human specimens. These conflicting results indicate the need for new research to verify whether SV40 is circulating in humans. Mimotopes from SV40 structural peptides were tested to investigate for specific reactions to human sera antibodies. An indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with synthetic peptides from SV40 viral capsid proteins 1-2-3 (VPs 1-2-3) was set up and employed to test 855 serum samples from healthy blood donors. Data from immunologic assays indicate that serum antibodies against SV40 VP mimotopes are detectable, although with a low titer, in blood donors 18 to 65 years old. The overall prevalence of serum samples that reacted with the 2 SV40 VP peptides was 18%. The strong points for this novel method include the simplicity of its approach and the potential to discriminate between SV40-specific antibody responses and to draw correlations between responses to the 2 independent SV40 peptides. These data suggest that SV40, or a yet undetected closely related polyomavirus, is circulating in human populations, but with lower prevalence than that of the ubiquitous BK and JC human polyomaviruses. © 2012 American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics.


Di Giacomo A.M.,University of Siena | Danielli R.,University of Siena | Calabro L.,University of Siena | Bertocci E.,University of Siena | And 10 more authors.
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy | Year: 2011

Aim of study: To evaluate the feasibility of ipilimumab treatment for metastatic melanoma outside the boundaries of clinical trials, in a setting similar to that of daily practice. Methods: Ipilimumab was available upon physician request in the Expanded Access Programme for patients with life-threatening, unresectable stage III/IV melanoma who failed or did not tolerate previous treatments and for whom no therapeutic option was available. Induction treatment with ipilimumab 10 mg/kg was administered intravenously every 3 weeks, for a total of 4 doses, with maintenance doses every 12 weeks based on physicians' discretion and clinical judgment. Tumors were assessed at baseline, Week 12, and every 12 weeks thereafter per mWHO response criteria, and clinical response was scored as complete response (CR), partial response (PR), stable disease (SD), or progressive disease. Durable disease control (DC) was defined as SD at least 24 weeks from the first dose, CR, or PR. Results: Disease control rate at 24 and 60 weeks was 29.6% and 15%, respectively. Median overall survival at a median follow-up of 8.5 months was 9 months. The 1- and 2-year survival rates were 34.8% and 23.5%, respectively. Changes in lymphocyte count slope and absolute number during ipilimumab treatment appear to correlate with clinical response and survival, respectively. Adverse events were predominantly immune related, manageable, and generally reversible. One patient died from pancytopenia, considered possibly treatment related. Conclusion: Ipilimumab was a feasible treatment for malignant melanoma in heavily pretreated, progressing patients. A sizeable proportion of patients experienced durable DC, including benefits to long-term survival. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.


PubMed | Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit, Italian National Cancer Institute and University of Siena
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Oncoimmunology | Year: 2015

The multifaceted immunomodulatory activity of DNA hypomethylating agents improves immunogenicity and immune recognition of neoplastic cells; thus, we predicted they could be utilized to design new immunotherapeutic combinations in cancer. Testing this hypothesis, the antitumor efficacy of the DNA hypomethylating agent 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine (5-AZA-CdR) combined with the anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody (mAb) 9H10 in syngeneic transplantable murine models was investigated. Murine mammary carcinoma TS/A or mesothelioma AB1 cells were injected in BALB/c, athymic nude, and SCID/Beige mice that were treated with 5-AZA-CdR, mAb 9H10, or their combination. Tumor volumes were captured at different time-points; molecular and immunohistochemical assays investigated changes in neoplastic and normal tissues. A significant antitumor effect of 5-AZA-CdR combined with mAb 9H10 was found: compared to controls, a 77% (


PubMed | Cornell College, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Fondazione IRCCS Instituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Northern Michigan University and 4 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: The Journal of investigative dermatology | Year: 2014

Recurrent metastatic melanoma provides a unique opportunity to analyze disease evolution in metastatic cancer. Here, we followed up eight patients with an unusually prolonged history of metastatic melanoma, who developed a total of 26 recurrences over several years. Cell lines derived from each metastasis were analyzed by comparative genomic hybridization and global transcript analysis. We observed that conserved, patient-specific characteristics remain stable in recurrent metastatic melanoma even after years and several recurrences. Differences among individual patients exceeded within-patient lesion variability, both at the DNA copy number (P<0.001) and RNA gene expression level (P<0.001). Conserved patient-specific traits included expression of several cancer/testis antigens and the c-kit proto-oncogene throughout multiple recurrences. Interestingly, subsequent recurrences of different patients did not display consistent or convergent changes toward a more aggressive disease phenotype. Finally, sequential recurrences of the same patient did not descend progressively from each other, as irreversible mutations such as homozygous deletions were frequently not inherited from previous metastases. This study suggests that the late evolution of metastatic melanoma, which markedly turns an indolent disease into a lethal phase, is prone to preserve case-specific traits over multiple recurrences and occurs through a series of random events that do not follow a consistent stepwise process.


PubMed | Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit, Regina Elena Cancer Institute, Astex and University of Siena
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research | Year: 2015

Epigenetic regulation allows heritably modulating gene expression profiles without modifying the primary sequence of gDNA. Under physiologic conditions, epigenetic patterns determine tissue-specific gene expression landscapes, gene imprinting, inactivation of chromosome X, and preservation of genomic stability. The most characterized mediators of epigenetic inheritance are gDNA methylation and histone posttranslational modifications that cooperate to alter chromatin state and genome transcription. According to these notions, it is not surprising that cancer cells invariantly deploy epigenetic alterations to achieve gene expression patterns required for neoplastic transformation and tumor progression. In this context, the recently uncovered use of epigenetic alterations by cancer cells to become stealth from the hosts immune recognition has significant immunobiologic relevance in tumor progression, and it appears to have potential clinical usefulness. Indeed, immune evasion is among the major obstacles to further improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies and to increase long-lasting disease control. Luckily, different epigenetic drugs able to revert these epimutations are available, some of which have already been approved for clinical use. Here, we summarize the immunomodulatory activities of epigenetic drugs that lead to improved immune recognition of cancer cells and focus on the potential of this class of agents in improving the anticancer activity of novel immunotherapies through combinatorial epigenetic immunotherapy approaches.


PubMed | Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII | Year: 2013

Pharmacologic DNA hypomethylation holds strong promises in cancer immunotherapy due to its immunomodulatory activity on neoplastic cells. Searching for more efficient DNA hypomethylating agents to be utilized to design novel immunotherapeutic strategies in cancer, we investigated the immunomodulatory properties of the new DNA hypomethylating agent SGI-110, that is resistant to in vivo inactivation by cytidine deaminase.Cutaneous melanoma, mesothelioma, renal cell carcinoma, and sarcoma cells were treated in vitro with SGI-110. RT-PCR, quantitative RT-PCR, quantitative methylation-specific PCR, and flow cytometric analyses were performed to investigate changes induced by SGI-110 in the constitutive immune profile of cancer cells. The recognition by gp100-specific CTL of gp100-positive melanoma cells, treated or not with SGI-110, was tested by LDH release assays.SGI-110 induced/up-regulated the expression of investigated cancer/testis antigens (CTA) (i.e., MAGE-A1, MAGE-A2, MAGE-A3, MAGE-A4, MAGE-A10, GAGE 1-2, GAGE 1-6, NY-ESO-1, and SSX 1-5) in all cancer cell lines studied, both at mRNA and at protein levels. Quantitative methylation-specific PCR analyses identified a hypomethylation of MAGE-A1 and NY-ESO-1 promoters in SGI-110-treated neoplastic cells, demonstrating a direct role of pharmacologic DNA demethylation in CTA induction. SGI-110 also up-regulated the expression of HLA class I antigens and of ICAM-1, resulting in an improved recognition of cancer cells by gp100-specific CTL.Our findings show that SGI-110 is a highly attractive therapeutic agent to comprehensively increase immunogenicity and immune recognition of neoplastic cells, and provide the scientific rationale for its clinical development to design novel chemo-immunotherapeutic approaches in cancer patients.


PubMed | Institute of Oncology, University of Cologne, St George's, University of London, University Of Clermont Ferrand and 116 more.
Type: | Journal: Breast cancer research : BCR | Year: 2015

Individuals carrying pathogenic mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a high lifetime risk of breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are involved in DNA double-strand break repair, DNA alterations that can be caused by exposure to reactive oxygen species, a main source of which are mitochondria. Mitochondrial genome variations affect electron transport chain efficiency and reactive oxygen species production. Individuals with different mitochondrial haplogroups differ in their metabolism and sensitivity to oxidative stress. Variability in mitochondrial genetic background can alter reactive oxygen species production, leading to cancer risk. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that mitochondrial haplogroups modify breast cancer risk in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers.We genotyped 22,214 (11,421 affected, 10,793 unaffected) mutation carriers belonging to the Consortium of Investigators of Modifiers of BRCA1/2 for 129 mitochondrial polymorphisms using the iCOGS array. Haplogroup inference and association detection were performed using a phylogenetic approach. ALTree was applied to explore the reference mitochondrial evolutionary tree and detect subclades enriched in affected or unaffected individuals.We discovered that subclade T1a1 was depleted in affected BRCA2 mutation carriers compared with the rest of clade T (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.55; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.34 to 0.88; P = 0.01). Compared with the most frequent haplogroup in the general population (that is, H and T clades), the T1a1 haplogroup has a HR of 0.62 (95% CI, 0.40 to 0.95; P = 0.03). We also identified three potential susceptibility loci, including G13708A/rs28359178, which has demonstrated an inverse association with familial breast cancer risk.This study illustrates how original approaches such as the phylogeny-based method we used can empower classical molecular epidemiological studies aimed at identifying association or risk modification effects.

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