Galectin-3 inhibition with belapectin combined with anti-OX40 therapy reprograms the tumor microenvironment to favor anti-tumor immunity.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title



oregon; portland; chiles


Treatment with an agonist anti-OX40 antibody (aOX40) boosts anti-tumor immunity by providing costimulation and driving effector T cell responses. However, tumor-induced immune suppression contributes significantly to poor response rates to aOX40 therapy, thus combining aOX40 with other agents that relieve tumor-mediated immune suppression may significantly improve outcomes. Once such target is galectin-3 (Gal-3), which drives tumor-induced immunosuppression by increasing macrophage infiltration and M2 polarization, restricting TCR signaling, and inducing T cell apoptosis. A wide-variety of tumors also upregulate Gal-3, which is associated with poor prognosis. Tumor-bearing (MCA-205 sarcoma, 4T1 mammary carcinoma, TRAMP-C1 prostate adenocarcinoma) mice were treated with a Gal-3 inhibitor (belapectin; GR-MD-02), aOX40, or combination therapy and the extent of tumor growth was determined. The phenotype and function of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes was determined by flow cytometry, multiplex cytokine assay, and multiplex immunohistochemistry. Gal-3 inhibition synergized with aOX40 to promote tumor regression and increase survival. Specifically, aOX40/belapectin therapy significantly improved survival of tumor-bearing mice through a CD8+ T cell-dependent mechanism. Combination aOX40/belapectin therapy enhanced CD8+ T cell density within the tumor and reduced the frequency and proliferation of regulatory Foxp3+CD4+ T cells. Further, aOX40/belapectin therapy significantly reduced monocytic MDSC (M-MDSCs) and MHC-IIhi macrophage populations, both of which displayed reduced arginase 1 and increased iNOS. Combination aOX40/belapectin therapy alleviated M-MDSC-specific functional suppression compared to M-MDSCs isolated from untreated tumors. Our data suggests that Gal-3 inhibition plus aOX40 therapy reduces M-MDSC-meditated immune suppression thereby increasing CD8+ T cell recruitment leading to increased tumor regression and survival.

Clinical Institute





Earle A. Chiles Research Institute