BIIB015 is an immunoconjugate created for the treatment of solid tumours and is currently in Phase I of clinical evaluation. BIIB015 consists of a humanised monoclonal antibody against the Cripto protein carrying a payload, via a hindered disulphide linker, of the maytansinoid derivative, DM4. Cripto is a GPI-linked protein required for signal transduction of the TGF-beta ligand, Nodal. Cripto has been previously described as an oncogene and fits the classic pattern of an embryonic gene that is re-expressed in a transformed tumour cell. Cripto expression is highly prevalent on a number of solid tumours, including greater than 75% of breast, lung, and colorectal tumours. Our report documents for the first time that targeting the cell surface Cripto protein with an anti-Cripto antibody-cytotoxic conjugate is an effective means of inhibiting or regressing growth of Cripto positive tumours. BIIB015 which utilises a 'cleavable' linker containing a disulphide bond exhibits superior activity when compared to huB3F6 mAb conjugates with different linker systems, including one with a 'non-cleavable' linker. BIIB015 displays specificity for Cripto in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. In human xenograft models originating from lung (Calu-6), colon (CT-3), testicular (NCCIT) and breast (MDA-MB-231) tumour samples, BIIB015 shows robust activity with results ranging from >50% tumour inhibition to complete tumour regression. The efficacy seen in the MDA-MB-231 model, a triple negative (-HER2, -ER, and -PR) tumour, is particularly exciting since there is currently no approved therapy for this indication. In addition, BIIB015 can be combined with standard of care chemotherapeutics for enhanced efficacy.
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