Professional Education


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, BIOE-PHD (2022)
  • Master of Science, Stanford University, BIOE-MS (2018)
  • BS, Clemson University, Materials Science and Engineering (2016)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications


  • Targeted TLR9 Agonist Elicits Effective Antitumor Immunity against Spontaneously Arising Breast Tumors. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) Miller, C. L., Sagiv-Barfi, I., Neuhöfer, P., Czerwinski, D. K., Bertozzi, C. R., Cochran, J. R., Levy, R. 2023

    Abstract

    Spontaneous tumors that arise in genetically engineered mice recapitulate the natural tumor microenvironment and tumor-immune coevolution observed in human cancers, providing a more physiologically relevant preclinical model relative to implanted tumors. Similar to many cancer patients, oncogene-driven spontaneous tumors are often resistant to immunotherapy, and thus novel agents that can effectively promote antitumor immunity against these aggressive cancers show considerable promise for clinical translation, and their mechanistic assessment can broaden our understanding of tumor immunology. In this study, we performed extensive immune profiling experiments to investigate how tumor-targeted TLR9 stimulation remodels the microenvironment of spontaneously arising tumors during an effective antitumor immune response. To model the clinical scenario of multiple tumor sites, we used MMTV-PyMT transgenic mice, which spontaneously develop heterogeneous breast tumors throughout their 10 mammary glands. We found that i.v. administration of a tumor-targeting TLR9 agonist, referred to as PIP-CpG, induced a systemic T cell-mediated immune response that not only promoted regression of existing mammary tumors, but also elicited immune memory capable of delaying growth of independent newly arising tumors. Within the tumor microenvironment, PIP-CpG therapy initiated an inflammatory cascade that dramatically amplified chemokine and cytokine production, prompted robust infiltration and expansion of innate and adaptive immune cells, and led to diverse and unexpected changes in immune phenotypes. This study demonstrates that effective systemic treatment of an autochthonous multisite tumor model can be achieved using a tumor-targeted immunostimulant and provides immunological insights that will inform future therapeutic strategies.

    View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.2200950

    View details for PubMedID 37256255

  • Systemic delivery of a targeted synthetic immunostimulant transforms the immune landscape for effective tumor regression. Cell chemical biology Miller, C. L., Sagiv-Barfi, I., Neuhöfer, P., Czerwinski, D. K., Artandi, S. E., Bertozzi, C. R., Levy, R., Cochran, J. R. 2021

    Abstract

    Promoting immune activation within the tumor microenvironment (TME) is a promising therapeutic strategy to reverse tumor immunosuppression and elicit anti-tumor immunity. To enable tumor-localized immunotherapy following intravenous administration, we chemically conjugated a polyspecific integrin-binding peptide (PIP) to an immunostimulant (Toll-like receptor 9 [TLR9] agonist: CpG) to generate a tumor-targeted immunomodulatory agent, referred to as PIP-CpG. We demonstrate that systemic delivery of PIP-CpG induces tumor regression and enhances therapeutic efficacy compared with untargeted CpG in aggressive murine breast and pancreatic cancer models. Furthermore, PIP-CpG transforms the immune-suppressive TME dominated by myeloid-derived suppressor cells into a lymphocyte-rich TME infiltrated with activated CD8+ T cells, CD4+ T cells, and B cells. Finally, we show that T cells are required for therapeutic efficacy and that PIP-CpG treatment generates tumor-specific CD8+ T cells. These data demonstrate that conjugation to a synthetic tumor-targeted peptide can improve the efficacy of systemically administered immunostimulants and lead to durable anti-tumor immune responses.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.10.012

    View details for PubMedID 34774126

  • Design of a mucin-selective protease for targeted degradation of cancer-associated mucins. Nature biotechnology Pedram, K., Shon, D. J., Tender, G. S., Mantuano, N. R., Northey, J. J., Metcalf, K. J., Wisnovsky, S. P., Riley, N. M., Forcina, G. C., Malaker, S. A., Kuo, A., George, B. M., Miller, C. L., Casey, K. M., Vilches-Moure, J. G., Ferracane, M. J., Weaver, V. M., Läubli, H., Bertozzi, C. R. 2023

    Abstract

    Targeted protein degradation is an emerging strategy for the elimination of classically undruggable proteins. Here, to expand the landscape of targetable substrates, we designed degraders that achieve substrate selectivity via recognition of a discrete peptide and glycan motif and achieve cell-type selectivity via antigen-driven cell-surface binding. We applied this approach to mucins, O-glycosylated proteins that drive cancer progression through biophysical and immunological mechanisms. Engineering of a bacterial mucin-selective protease yielded a variant for fusion to a cancer antigen-binding nanobody. The resulting conjugate selectively degraded mucins on cancer cells, promoted cell death in culture models of mucin-driven growth and survival, and reduced tumor growth in mouse models of breast cancer progression. This work establishes a blueprint for the development of biologics that degrade specific protein glycoforms on target cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41587-023-01840-6

    View details for PubMedID 37537499

    View details for PubMedCentralID 6031612

  • PROFILING THE EFFECTS OF TARGETED TLR9 STIMULATION WITHIN SPONTANEOUSLY ARISING BREAST TUMORS Miller, C., Sagiv-Barfi, I., Neuhoefer, P., Czerwinski, D., Bertozzi, C., Cochran, J., Levy, R. BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP. 2022: A1209
  • Heterogeneous delivery across the blood-brain barrier limits the efficacy of an EGFR-targeting antibody drug conjugate in glioblastoma. Neuro-oncology Marin, B., Porath, K. A., Jain, S., Kim, M., Conage-Pough, J. E., Oh, J., Miller, C. L., Talele, S., Kitange, G. J., Tian, S., Burgenske, D. M., Mladek, A. C., Gupta, S. K., Decker, P. A., McMinn, M. H., Stopka, S. A., Regan, M. S., He, L., Carlson, B. L., Bakken, K., Burns, T. C., Parney, I. F., Giannini, C., Agar, N. Y., Eckel-Passow, J. E., Cochran, J. R., Elmquist, W. F., Vaubel, R. A., White, F. M., Sarkaria, J. N. 2021

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: Antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), such as depatuxizumab mafodotin (Depatux-M), is a promising therapeutic strategy for glioblastoma (GBM) but recent clinical trials did not demonstrate a survival benefit. Understanding the mechanisms of failure for this promising strategy is critically important.METHODS: PDX models were employed to study efficacy of systemic vs intracranial delivery of Depatux-M. Immunofluorescence and MALDI-MSI were performed to detect drug levels in the brain. EGFR levels and compensatory pathways were studied using quantitative flow cytometry, Western blots, RNAseq, FISH and phosphoproteomics.RESULTS: Systemic delivery of Depatux-M was highly effective in nine of 10 EGFR-amplified heterotopic PDXs with survival extending beyond one year in eight PDXs. Acquired resistance in two PDXs (GBM12 and GBM46) was driven by suppression of EGFR expression or emergence of a novel short-variant of EGFR lacking the epitope for the Depatux-M antibody. In contrast to the profound benefit observed in heterotopic tumors, only two of seven intrinsically sensitive PDXs were responsive to Depatux-M as intracranial tumors. Poor efficacy in orthotopic PDXs was associated with limited and heterogeneous distribution of Depatux-M into tumor tissues, and artificial disruption of the BBB or bypass of the BBB by direct intracranial injection of Depatux-M into orthotopic tumors markedly enhanced the efficacy of drug treatment.CONCLUSIONS: Despite profound intrinsic sensitivity to Depatux-M, limited drug delivery into brain tumor may have been a key contributor to lack of efficacy in recently failed clinical trials.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/neuonc/noab133

    View details for PubMedID 34050676

  • LYTACs that engage the asialoglycoprotein receptor for targeted protein degradation. Nature chemical biology Ahn, G., Banik, S. M., Miller, C. L., Riley, N. M., Cochran, J. R., Bertozzi, C. R. 2021

    Abstract

    Selective protein degradation platforms have afforded new development opportunities for therapeutics and tools for biological inquiry. The first lysosome-targeting chimeras (LYTACs) targeted extracellular and membrane proteins for degradation by bridging a target protein to the cation-independent mannose-6-phosphate receptor (CI-M6PR). Here, we developed LYTACs that engage the asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR), a liver-specific lysosome-targeting receptor, to degrade extracellular proteins in a cell-type-specific manner. We conjugated binders to a triantenerrary N-acetylgalactosamine (tri-GalNAc) motif that engages ASGPR to drive the downregulation of proteins. Degradation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) by GalNAc-LYTAC attenuated EGFR signaling compared to inhibition with an antibody. Furthermore, we demonstrated that a LYTAC consisting of a 3.4-kDa peptide binder linked to a tri-GalNAc ligand degrades integrins and reduces cancer cell proliferation. Degradation with a single tri-GalNAc ligand prompted site-specific conjugation on antibody scaffolds, which improved the pharmacokinetic profile of GalNAc-LYTACs in vivo. GalNAc-LYTACs thus represent an avenue for cell-type-restricted protein degradation.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41589-021-00770-1

    View details for PubMedID 33767387

  • Targeting the tetraspanin CD81 reduces cancer invasion and metastasis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Vences-Catalán, F., Rajapaksa, R., Kuo, C. C., Miller, C. L., Lee, A., Ramani, V. C., Jeffrey, S. S., Levy, R., Levy, S. 2021; 118 (24)

    Abstract

    Tetraspanins are an evolutionary conserved family of proteins involved in multiple aspects of cell physiology, including proliferation, migration and invasion, protein trafficking, and signal transduction; yet their detailed mechanism of action is unknown. Tetraspanins have no known natural ligands, but their engagement by antibodies has begun to reveal their role in cell biology. Studies of tetraspanin knockout mice and of germline mutations in humans have highlighted their role under normal and pathological conditions. Previously, we have shown that mice deficient in the tetraspanin CD81 developed fewer breast cancer metastases compared to their wild-type (WT) counterparts. Here, we show that a unique anti-human CD81 antibody (5A6) effectively halts invasion of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell lines. We demonstrate that 5A6 induces CD81 clustering at the cell membrane and we implicate JAM-A protein in the ability of this antibody to inhibit tumor cell invasion and migration. Furthermore, in a series of in vivo studies we demonstrate that this antibody inhibits metastases in xenograft models, as well as in syngeneic mice bearing a mouse tumor into which we knocked in the human CD81 epitope recognized by the 5A6 antibody.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2018961118

    View details for PubMedID 34099563

  • An engineered antibody binds a distinct epitope and is a potent inhibitor of murine and human VISTA. Scientific reports Mehta, N., Maddineni, S., Kelly, R. L., Lee, R. B., Hunter, S. A., Silberstein, J. L., Parra Sperberg, R. A., Miller, C. L., Rabe, A., Labanieh, L., Cochran, J. R. 2020; 10 (1): 15171

    Abstract

    V-domain immunoglobulin (Ig) suppressor of T cell activation (VISTA) is an immune checkpoint that maintains peripheral T cell quiescence and inhibits anti-tumor immune responses. VISTA functions by dampening the interaction between myeloid cells and T cells, orthogonal to PD-1 and other checkpoints of the tumor-T cell signaling axis. Here, we report the use of yeast surface display to engineer an anti-VISTA antibody that binds with high affinity to mouse, human, and cynomolgus monkey VISTA. Our anti-VISTA antibody (SG7) inhibits VISTA function and blocks purported interactions with both PSGL-1 and VSIG3proteins. SG7 binds a unique epitope on the surface of VISTA, which partially overlaps with other clinically relevant antibodies. As a monotherapy, and to a greater extent as a combination with anti-PD1, SG7 slows tumor growth in multiple syngeneic mouse models. SG7 is a promising clinical candidate that can be tested in fully immunocompetent mouse models and its binding epitope can be used for future campaigns to develop species cross-reactive inhibitors of VISTA.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-020-71519-4

    View details for PubMedID 32938950

  • Targeted glycan degradation potentiates the anticancer immune response in vivo. Nature chemical biology Gray, M. A., Stanczak, M. A., Mantuano, N. R., Xiao, H., Pijnenborg, J. F., Malaker, S. A., Miller, C. L., Weidenbacher, P. A., Tanzo, J. T., Ahn, G., Woods, E. C., Laubli, H., Bertozzi, C. R. 2020

    Abstract

    Currently approved immune checkpoint inhibitor therapies targeting the PD-1 and CTLA-4 receptor pathways are powerful treatment options for certain cancers; however, most patients across cancer types still fail to respond. Consequently, there is interest in discovering and blocking alternative pathways that mediate immune suppression. One such mechanism is an upregulation of sialoglycans in malignancy, which has been recently shown to inhibit immune cell activation through multiple mechanisms and therefore represents a targetable glycoimmune checkpoint. Since these glycans are not canonically druggable, we designed an alphaHER2 antibody-sialidase conjugate that potently and selectively strips diverse sialoglycans from breast cancer cells. In syngeneic breast cancer models, desialylation enhanced immune cell infiltration and activation and prolonged the survival of mice, an effect that was dependent on expression of the Siglec-E checkpoint receptor found on tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells. Thus, antibody-sialidase conjugates represent a promising modality for glycoimmune checkpoint therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41589-020-0622-x

    View details for PubMedID 32807964