Thermal Control of T-cell Immunotherapy

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
M. H. AbediMikhail G. Shapiro


Genetically engineered T-cells are being developed to perform a variety of therapeutic functions. However, no robust mechanisms exist to externally control the activity of T-cells at specific locations within the body. Such spatiotemporal control could help mitigate potential off-target toxicity due to incomplete molecular specificity in applications such as T-cell immunotherapy against solid tumors. Temperature is a versatile external control signal that can be delivered to target tissues in vivo using techniques such as focused ultrasound and magnetic hyperthermia. Here, we test the ability of heat shock promoters to mediate thermal actuation of genetic circuits in primary human T-cells in the well-tolerated temperature range of 37-42 C, and introduce genetic architectures enabling the tuning of the amplitude and duration of thermal activation. We demonstrate the use of these circuits to control the expression of chimeric antigen receptors and cytokines, and the killing of target tumor cells. This technology provides a critical tool to direct the activity of T-cells after they are deployed inside the body.

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