Dual stromal targeting sensitizes pancreatic adenocarcinoma for anti-PD-1 therapy

Background and Aims
The stroma in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) contributes to its immunosuppressive nature and therapeutic resistance. Herein we sought to modify signaling and enhance immunotherapy efficacy by targeting multiple stromal components through both intracellular and extracellular mechanisms.
A murine liver metastasis syngeneic model of PDAC was treated with focal adhesion kinase inhibitor (FAKi), anti-PD-1 antibody and stromal hyaluronan (HA) degradation by PEGPH20 to assess immune and stromal modulating effects of these agents and their combinations.
The results showed that HA degradation by PEGPH20 and reduction in phosphorylated FAK expression by FAKi leads to improved survival in PDAC-bearing mice treated with anti-PD-1 antibody. HA degradation in combination with FAKi and anti-PD-1 antibody increases T-cell infiltration and alters T-cell phenotype towards effector memory T-cells. FAKi alters the expression of T-cell modulating cytokines and leads to changes in T-cell metabolism and increases in effector T-cell signatures. HA degradation in combination with anti-PD-1 antibody and FAKi treatments reduces granulocytes including granulocytic-MDSCs and decreases CXCR4 expressing myeloid cells, particularly the CXCR4 expressing granulocytes. Anti-CXCR4 antibody combined with FAKi and anti-PD-1 antibody significantly decreases metastatic rates in the PDAC liver metastasis model.
This represents the first preclinical study to identify synergistic effects of targeting both intracellular and extracellular components within the PDAC stroma and supports testing anti-CXCR4 antibody in combination with FAKi as a PDAC treatment strategy.