Adjuvant-Pulsed mRNA Vaccine Nanoparticle for Immunoprophylactic and Therapeutic Tumor Suppression in Mice

Biomaterials, 2020, 120431

Authors: M. A. Islama, J. Rice, E. Reesora, H. Zopea, W. Tao, M. Lima, J. Ding, Y. Chena, D. Aduluso, B. R. Zetter, O. C. Farokhzad, J. Shi

Synthetic mRNA represents an exciting cancer vaccine technology to the implementation of effective cancer immunotherapy. However, inefficient in vivo mRNA delivery along with a requirement for immune co-stimulation present major hurdles to achieving anti-tumor therapeutic efficacy. Here, we demonstrate a proof-of-concept adjuvant-pulsed mRNA vaccine nanoparticle (NP) that is composed of an ovalbumin-coded mRNA and a palmitic acid-modified TLR7/8 agonist R848 (C16-R848), coated with a lipid-polyethylene glycol (lipid-PEG) shell. This mRNA vaccine NP formulation retained the adjuvant activity of encapsulated C16-R848 and markedly improved the transfection efficacy of the mRNA (>95%) and subsequent MHC class I presentation of OVA mRNA derived antigen in antigen-presenting cells. The C16-R848 adjuvant-pulsed mRNA vaccine NP approach induced an effective adaptive immune response by significantly improving the expansion of OVA-specific CD8+ T cells and infiltration of these cells into the tumor bed in vivo, relative to the mRNA vaccine NP without adjuvant. The approach led to an effective anti-tumor immunity against OVA expressing syngeneic allograft mouse models of lymphoma and prostate cancer, resulting in a significant prevention of tumor growth when the vaccine was given before tumor engraftment (84% reduction vs. control) and suppression of tumor growth when given post engraftment (60% reduction vs. control). Our findings indicate that C16-R848 adjuvant pulsation to mRNA vaccine NP is a rational design strategy to increase the effectiveness of synthetic mRNA vaccines for cancer immunotherapy.