Fc-comprising scDb-based trivalent, bispecific T-cell engagers for selective killing of HER3-expressing cancer cells independent of cytokine release
Nadine Aschmoneit, Lennart Kühl, Oliver Seifert, Roland E Kontermann
Background: Bispecific T-cell engagers are an established therapeutic strategy for the treatment of hematologic malignancies but face several challenges when it comes to their application for the treatment of solid tumors, including on-target off-tumor adverse events. Employing an avidity-mediated specificity gain by introducing an additional binding moiety for the tumor-associated antigen can be achieved using formats with a 2+1 stoichiometry.
Methods: Besides biochemical characterization and validation of target cell binding to cancer cells with different HER3 expression, we used in vitro co-culture assays with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and HER3-expressing target cells to determine T-cell activation, T-cell proliferation and PBMC-mediated cancer cell lysis of HER3-positive cell lines by the trivalent, bispecific antibodies.
Results: In this study, we developed trivalent, bispecific antibodies comprising a silenced Fc region for T-cell retargeting to HER3-expressing tumor cells, combining a bivalent single-chain diabody (scDb) fused to a first heterodimerizing Fc chain with either an Fab or scFv fused to a second heterodimerizing Fc chain. All these HER3-targeting T-cell engagers comprising two binding sites for HER3 and one binding site for CD3 mediated target cell killing. However, format and orientation of binding sites influenced efficacy of target cell binding, target cell-dependent T-cell activation and T-cell-mediated target cell killing. Beneficial effects were seen when the CD3 binding site was located in the scDb moiety. These molecules showed efficient killing of medium HER3-expressing cancer cells with very low induction of cytokine release, while sparing target cells with low or undetectable HER3 expression.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that these trivalent, bispecific antibodies represent formats with superior interdomain spacing resulting in efficient target cell killing and a potential advantageous safety profile due to very low cytokine release.