Purpose: Poorly-differentiated thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) are rare yet lethal malignancies with limited treatment options. Many malignant tumors including papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) and ATC are associated with increased expression of ICAM-1, providing a rationale for utilizing ICAM-1-targeting agents for the treatment of aggressive cancer. We developed a third-generation CAR targeting ICAM-1 to leverage adoptive T cell therapy as a new treatment modality. Experimental Design: ICAM-1 CAR T cells were applied on multiple malignant and non-malignant target cells to investigate specific target cell death and ‘off-tumor’ toxicity in vitro. In vivo therapeutic efficacy of ICAM-1 CAR T cells was examined in ATC mouse models established from a cell line and patient-derived tumors that rapidly develop systemic metastases. Results: ICAM-1 CAR T cells demonstrated robust and specific killing of PTC and ATC cell lines in vitro. Interestingly, although certain ATC cell lines showed heterogeneous levels of ICAM-1 expression, addition of cytotoxic CAR T cells induced increased ICAM-1 expression such that all cell lines became targetable. In mice with systemic ATC, a single administration of ICAM-1 CAR-T cells mediated profound tumor killing that resulted in long term remission and significantly improved survival. Patient-derived ATC cells overexpressed ICAM-1 and were largely eliminated by autologous ICAM-1 CAR T cells in vitro and in animal models. Conclusions: Our findings are the first demonstration of CAR T therapy for metastatic, thyroid cancer cell line and advanced ATC patient-derived tumors that exhibit dramatic therapeutic efficacy and survival benefit in animal studies.
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