Imaging Kv1 .3 expressing memory T cells as a marker of immunotherapy response
Immune checkpoint inhibitors have shown great promise, emerging as a new pillar of treatment for cancer; however, only a relatively small proportion of recipients show a durable response to treatment. Strategies that reliably differentiate durably-responding tumours from non-responsive tumours are a critical unmet need. Persistent and durable immunological responses are associated with the generation of memory T cells. Effector memory T cells associated with tumour response to immune therapies are characterized by substantial upregulation of the potassium channel Kv1.3 after repeated antigen stimulation. We have developed a new Kv1.3 targeting radiopharmaceutical, [18 F]AlF-NOTA-KCNA3P, and evaluated whether it can reliably differentiate tumours successfully responding to immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy targeting PD-1 alone or combined with CLTA4. In a syngeneic colon cancer model, we compared tumour retention of [18 F]AlF-NOTA-KCNA3P with changes in the tumour immune microenvironment determined by flow cytometry. Imaging with [18 F]AlF-NOTA-KCNA3P reliably differentiated tumours responding to ICI therapy from non-responding tumours and was associated with substantial tumour infiltration of T cells, especially Kv1.3-expressing CD8+ effector memory T cells.