Key Points

  • Siglec-6-CAR T-cells eliminate AML blasts (including AML stem cells), and induce complete remission from AML in a xenograft model in mice

  • Normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells are Siglec-6-negative and are not affected by Siglec-6-CAR T-cells in pre-clinical analyses

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is attractive for the development of CAR T-cell immunotherapy because AML blasts are susceptible to T-cell-mediated elimination. Here, we introduce sialic-acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin (Siglec)-6 as a novel target for CAR T-cells in AML. We designed a Siglec-6-specific CAR with a targeting-domain derived from a human monoclonal antibody JML‑1. We found that Siglec-6 is prevalently expressed on AML cell lines and primary AML blasts, including the subpopulation of AML stem cells. Treatment with Siglec-6-CAR T-cells confers specific anti-leukemia reactivity that correlates with Siglec-6-expression in pre-clinical models, including induction of complete remission in a xenograft AML model in immunodeficient mice (NSG/U937). In addition, we confirmed Siglec-6-expression on transformed B-cells in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and show specific anti-CLL-reactivity of Siglec-6-CAR T-cells in vitro. Of particular interest, we found that Siglec-6 is not detectable on normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSC/P) and that treatment with Siglec-6-CAR T-cells does not affect their viability and lineage differentiation in colony-formation assays. These data suggest that Siglec-6-CAR T-cell therapy may be used to effectively treat AML without a need for subsequent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. In mature normal hematopoietic cells, we detected Siglec-6 in a proportion of memory (and naïve) B-cells and basophilic granulocytes, suggesting the potential for limited on-target/off-tumor reactivity. The lacking expression of Siglec-6 on normal HSC/P is a key differentiator from other Siglec-family members (e.g. Siglec-3=CD33) and other CAR target antigens, e.g. CD123, that are under investigation in AML and warrants the clinical investigation of Siglec-6-CAR T-cell therapy.

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