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  1. Proteins involved in immune checkpoint pathways, such as CTLA4, PD1, and PD-L1, have become important targets for cancer immunotherapy; however, development of small molecule drugs targeting these pathways has proven difficult due to the nature of their protein–protein interfaces. Here, using a hierarchy of computational techniques, we design a cyclic peptide that binds CTLA4 and follow this with experimental verification of binding and biological activity, using bio-layer interferometry, cell culture, and a mouse tumor model. Beginning from a template excised from the X-ray structure of the CTLA4:B7-2 complex, we generate several peptide sequences using flexible docking and modeling steps. These peptides are cyclized head-to-tail to improve structural and proteolytic stability and screened using molecular dynamics simulation and MM-GBSA calculation. The standard binding free energies for shortlisted peptides are then calculated in explicit-solvent simulation using a rigorous multistep technique. The most promising peptide, cyc(EIDTVLTPTGWVAKRYS), yields the standard free energy −6.6 ± 3.5 kcal mol^−1, which corresponds to a dissociation constant of ∼15 μmol L^−1. The binding affinity of this peptide for CTLA4 is measured experimentally (31 ± 4 μmol L^−1) using bio-layer interferometry. Treatment with this peptide inhibited tumor growth in a co-culture of Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells and antigen primed T cells, as well as in mice with an orthotropic Lewis lung carcinoma allograft model. 
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  2. The antitumor effects of a partially purified water extract from Euglena gracilis (EWE) and EWE treated by boiling (bEWE) were evaluated using orthotopic lung cancer syngeneic mouse models with Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells. Daily oral administration of either EWE or bEWE started three weeks prior to the inoculation of LLC cells significantly attenuated tumor growth as compared to the phosphate buffered saline (PBS) control, and the attenuation was further enhanced by bEWE. The intestinal microbiota compositions in both extract-treated groups were more diverse than that in the PBS group. Particularly, a decrease in the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes and significant increases in Akkermansia and Muribaculum were observed in two types of EWE-treated groups. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) using bEWE-treated mouse feces attenuated tumor growth to an extent equivalent to bEWE treatment, while tumor growth attenuation by bEWE was abolished by treatment with an antibiotic cocktail. These studies strongly suggest that daily oral administration of partially purified water extracts from Euglena gracilis attenuates lung carcinoma growth via the alteration of the intestinal microbiota. 
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