For locally advanced and metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), the current clinical use of Cetuximab in chemo/radiotherapy protocols is often associated to severe systemic toxicity. Here we report in vitro data in human FaDu pharynx SCC cells, showing that inactive concentrations of biotinylated Cetuximab (bCet) become active upon anchorage to AvidinOX on the surface of tumor cells. AvidinOX-anchored bCet induces apoptosis and DNA damage as well as specific inhibition of signaling, degradation and abrogation of nuclear translocation of EGFR. In the mouse model of FaDu cancer, we show that intra-tumor injection of AvidinOX allows anti-tumor activity of an otherwise inactive, intraperitoneally delivered, low dose bCet. Consistently with in vitro data, in vivo tumor inhibition is associated to induction of apoptosis, DNA damage and reduced angiogenesis. AvidinOX is under clinical investigation for delivering radioactive biotin to inoperable tumors (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02053324) and present data support its use for the local treatment of HNSCC in combination with systemic administration of low dose bCet.
Keywords: AvidinOX; Cetuximab; HNSCC; bCet; targeted therapy.