Adoptive immunotherapy of cancer uses the transfer of tumor-reactive immune cells. The success of this procedure is dependent upon the specificity of the transferred immune cells, their number, and their ability to reach their target cells. We genetically modified T lymphocytes and equipped them with the ability to specifically recognize tumor cells. Tumor cells overexpressing the ErbB-2 receptor served as a model. The target cell recognition specificity is conferred to T lymphocytes by transduction of a chimeric gene encoding the zeta-chain of the TCR and a single chain antibody (scFv(FRP5)) directed against the human ErbB-2 receptor. The chimeric scFv(FRP5)-zeta gene was introduced into primary mouse T lymphocytes via retroviral gene transfer. Naive T lymphocytes were activated and infected by cocultivation with a retrovirus-producing packaging cell line. The scFv(FRP5)-zeta fusion gene was expressed in >75% of the T cells. These T cells lysed ErbB-2-expressing target cells in vitro with high specificity. We tested the antitumor efficacy of scFv(FRP5)-zeta-expressing T cells in a syngeneic BALB/c model. The mice were treated with autologous, transduced T cells. The adoptively transferred scFv(FRP5)-zeta-expressing T cells caused total regression of ErbB-2-expressing tumors. The presence of the transduced T lymphocytes in the tumor tissue was monitored. No humoral response directed against the transduced T cells was observed. Abs directed against the ErbB-2 receptor were detected upon tumor lysis.

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