Synergistic anti-tumor efficacy by combination therapy of a self-assembled nanogel vaccine with an immune checkpoint anti-PD-1 antibody
Therapeutic strategies for cancer involving immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have been gaining widespread attention, but their efficacy remains limited. Thus, combination of ICI therapies with other therapeutic modalities may be required to improve their outcomes. In this study, we examined the improved efficacy of a CHP nanogel-based vaccine delivery system after combination with ICI therapy. For this, we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of combining an anti-PD-1 antibody as an ICI with an OVA antigen-complexed CHP nanogel vaccine delivery system in a mouse E.G7-OVA tumor model. Mice were subcutaneously inoculated with E.G7-OVA tumor cells on one side of the back, and subcutaneously injected with OVA or the OVA/CHP nanogel vaccine on the other side of the back. Anti-PD-1 antibody was administered at defined intervals. Tumor volume, immune responses, and tumor-infiltrating cells were evaluated. Mice treated with OVA vaccine alone showed weak tumor suppression compared with untreated control mice. Mice receiving combined OVA/CHP nanogel vaccine and anti-PD-1 antibody therapy exhibited strong tumor growth suppression and markedly improved survival, suggesting that PD-1 signaling blockade by the anti-PD-1 antibody enhanced the anti-tumor efficacy of the OVA vaccine. Furthermore, tumor-infiltrating cells and immune responses were increased in the combined therapy group. No serious side effects were observed for any of the treatments. Taken together, the immune system activation induced by the CHP nanogel vaccine was synergistically enhanced by the anti-PD-1 antibody. The present findings suggest the potential for enhanced therapeutic efficacy by combining the CHP nanogel vaccine delivery system with ICI therapy for various cancer types.