Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is a lethal disease with poor prognosis due to the limited treatment options. STING is a transmembrane protein that activates transcription of type I IFN genes, resulting in stimulation of APCs and enhanced CD8+ T cell infiltration. Recently, STING agonists have demonstrated not only potent efficacy against the primary tumor but also in the distant metastasis and recurrences. Interestingly, combining the STING agonist with radiotherapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors has demonstrated durable anticancer activity in solid tumors. Hence, the aim of the study was to specifically evaluate the efficacy and immunologic regulatory effects of STING agonist +/- radiation in an established EAC model.
Esophagojejunostomy was performed on rats to induce gastroduodenojejunal reflux leading to the development EAC. At 32 weeks post operatively, rats received either 50μg STING (ADU-S100) +/- 16Gy radiation or placebo (PBS) +/- 16Gy radiation. Drug or placebo control was delivered intratumorally twice via endoscopy, 3 weeks apart. Drug efficacy was evaluated by pre- and post- treatment MRI, serial biopsies, histology and RT-PCR. Additionally, IHC was performed using CD8 and PD-L1 antibodies.
There was no difference in observed mortality among the groups (p = 0.3). Mean MRI tumor volume decreased by 19.7% and 18.6% in ADU-S100 and ADU-S100 + radiation animals and increased by 34.7% and 90.3% in placebo and placebo + radiation animals, respectively (P = 0.0006). Downstream gene expression, pre- to on- treatment, demonstrated upregulation of IFNγ (p = 0.0003) and TNFα (p = 0.02) in the treatment groups vs. placebo. The most remarkable change was observed in ADU-S100 group (5.5X IFNγ and 10.9X TNFα; p < 0.01). On- or post- treatment, radiation alone, ADU-S100 alone and ADU-S100 + radiation groups demonstrated significantly elevated densities of CD8+ T cells and PD-L1+ tumor and immune stromal cells compared to placebo (p < 0.01).
ADU-S100 exhibits potent antitumor efficacy and a promising immunomodulatory profile in a de novo EAC model providing the rationale for clinical strategies, likely in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors.
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Has not received any funding.
A.H. Zaidi: Shareholder / Stockholder / Stock options: Array Biopharma; Research grant / Funding (institution): Eli Lilly & Co. All other authors have declared no conflicts of interest.
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