Background: Non-viral manufacturing of CAR T cells via the Sleeping Beauty transposon is cost effective and reduces the risk of insertional mutagenesis from viral transduction. However, the current gold standard methodology requires ex vivo numerical expansion of these cells on artificial antigen-presenting cells (AaPCs) for 4 weeks to generate CAR T cells of presumed sufficient quantity and function for clinical applications. Method: We engineered EGFRvIII-specific CAR T cells and monitored phenotypic changes throughout their ex vivo manufacturing. To reduce the culture time required to generate the CAR T-cell population, we selected for T cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells prior to CAR modification (to eliminate the competing NK cell population). Results: While we found increased expression of exhaustion markers (such as PD-1, PD-L1, TIM-3, and LAG-3) after 2 weeks in culture, whose levels continued to rise over time, we were able to generate a CAR+ T-cell population with comparable CAR expression and cell numbers in 2 weeks, thereby reducing manufacturing time by 50%, with lower expression of immune exhaustion markers. The CAR T cells manufactured at 2 weeks showed superior therapeutic efficacy in mice bearing established orthotopic EGFRvIII+ U87 gliomas. Conclusion: These findings demonstrate a novel, rapid method to generate CAR T cells by non-viral modification that results in CAR T cells superior in phenotype and function and further emphasizes that careful monitoring of CAR T-cell phenotype prior to infusion is critical for generating an optimal CAR T-cell product with full antitumor potential.
- Chimeric antigen receptor T cell
- Exhaustion markers
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cancer Research