Cell Chemical Biology
Protein- and cell-based immunotherapeutic agents have revolutionized cancer treatment. However, small-molecule immunomodulators with favorable pharmacological properties for reaching intracellular targets remain to be developed. To explore the vast chemical space, a robust method that recapitulates the complex cancer-immune microenvironment in a high-throughput format is essential. To address this critical gap, we developed a high-throughput immunomodulator phenotypic screening platform, HTiP, which integrates the immune and cancer cell co-culture system with imaging- and biochemical-based multiplexed readouts. Using the HTiP platform, we have demonstrated its capability in modeling an oncogenic KRAS mutation-driven immunosuppressive phenotype. From a bioactive chemical library, multiple structurally distinct compounds were identified, all of which target the same class of proteins, inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP). IAP has demonstrated roles in cancer immunity. Identification of IAP antagonists as potent anti-tumor immune enhancers provides strong validating evidence for the use of the HTiP platform to discover small-molecule immunomodulators.