Sym004, a novel anti-EGFR antibody mixture, augments radiation response in human lung and head and neck cancers

Mol Cancer Ther. 2013 Dec;12(12):2772-81. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-13-0587. Epub 2013 Oct 15.


Sym004 represents a novel EGF receptor (EGFR)-targeting approach comprising a mixture of two anti-EGFR antibodies directed against distinct epitopes of EGFR. In contrast with single anti-EGFR antibodies, Sym004 induces rapid and highly efficient degradation of EGFR. In the current study, we examine the capacity of Sym004 to augment radiation response in lung cancer and head and neck cancer model systems. We first examined the antiproliferative effect of Sym004 and confirmed 40% to 60% growth inhibition by Sym004. Using clonogenic survival analysis, we identified that Sym004 potently increased cell kill by up to 10-fold following radiation exposure. A significant increase of γH2AX foci resulting from DNA double-strand breaks was observed in Sym004-treated cells following exposure to radiation. Mechanistic studies further showed that Sym004 enhanced radiation response via induction of cell-cycle arrest followed by induction of apoptosis and cell death, reflecting inhibitory effects on DNA damage repair. The expression of several critical molecules involved in radiation-induced DNA damage repair was significantly inhibited by Sym004, including DNAPK, NBS1, RAD50, and BRCA1. Using single and fractionated radiation in human tumor xenograft models, we confirmed that the combination of Sym004 and radiation resulted in significant tumor regrowth delay and superior antitumor effects compared with treatment with Sym004 or radiation alone. Taken together, these data reveal the strong capacity of Sym004 to augment radiation response in lung and head and neck cancers. The unique action mechanism of Sym004 warrants further investigation as a promising EGFR targeting agent combined with radiotherapy in cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / radiation effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Mice
  • Proteolysis / drug effects
  • Radiation Tolerance / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • futuximab
  • ErbB Receptors