Ivermectin Converts Cold Tumors Hot and Synergizes with Immune Checkpoint Blockade for Treatment of Breast Cancer

Dobrin Draganov et al.

Ivermectin converts cold tumors hot and synergizes with immune checkpoint blockade for treatment of breast cancer

We show that treatment with the FDA-approved anti-parasitic drug ivermectin induces immunogenic cancer cell death (ICD) and robust T cell infiltration into breast tumors. As an allosteric modulator of the ATP/P2X4/P2X7 axis which operates in both cancer and immune cells, ivermectin also selectively targets immunosuppressive populations including myeloid cells and Tregs, resulting in enhanced Teff/Tregs ratio. While neither agent alone showed efficacy in vivo, combination therapy with ivermectin and checkpoint inhibitor anti-PD1 antibody achieved synergy in limiting tumor growth (p = 0.03) and promoted complete responses (p < 0.01), also leading to immunity against contralateral re-challenge with demonstrated anti-tumor immune responses. Going beyond primary tumors, this combination achieved significant reduction in relapse after neoadjuvant (p = 0.03) and adjuvant treatment (p < 0.001), and potential cures in metastatic disease (p < 0.001). Statistical modeling confirmed bona fide synergistic activity in both the adjuvant (p = 0.007) and metastatic settings (p < 0.001). Ivermectin has dual immunomodulatory and ICD-inducing effects in breast cancer, converting cold tumors hot, thus represents a rational mechanistic partner with checkpoint blockade.

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