CD37 is a tetraspanin expressed on malignant B cells. Recently, CD37 has gained interest as a therapeutic target. We developed AGS67E, an antibody-drug conjugate that targets CD37 for the potential treatment of B/T-cell malignancies. It is a fully human monoclonal IgG2 antibody (AGS67C) conjugated, via a protease-cleavable linker, to the microtubule-disrupting agent monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE). AGS67E induces potent cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and cell-cycle alterations in many non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cell lines and patient-derived samples in vitro. It also shows potent antitumor activity in NHL and CLL xenografts, including Rituxan-refractory models. During profiling studies to confirm the reported expression of CD37 in normal tissues and B-cell malignancies, we made the novel discovery that the CD37 protein was expressed in T-cell lymphomas and in AML. AGS67E bound to >80% of NHL and T-cell lymphomas, 100% of CLL and 100% of AML patient-derived samples, including CD34(+)CD38(-) leukemic stem cells. It also induced cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and cell-cycle alterations in AML cell lines and antitumor efficacy in orthotopic AML xenografts. Taken together, this study shows not only that AGS67E may serve as a potential therapeutic for B/T-cell malignancies, but it also demonstrates, for the first time, that CD37 is well expressed and a potential drug target in AML.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.