Cancer immunotherapies have gained significant momentum over the past decade, particularly with the advent of checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T-cells. While the latter personalized targeted immunotherapy has revolutionized the field, a need for off-the-shelf therapies remains. The ability of NK cells to quickly lyse antibody-coated tumors and potently secrete cytokines without prior priming has made NK cells ideal candidates for antigen-specific immunotherapy. NK cells have been targeted to tumors through two main strategies: mono-specific antibodies and bi/tri-specific antibodies. Mono-specific antibodies drive NK cell antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) of tumor cells. Bi/tri-specific antibodies drive re-directed lysis of tumor cells through binding of a tumor antigen and direct binding and crosslinking of the CD16 receptor on NK cells, thus bypassing the need for binding of the Fc portion of mono-specific antibodies. This chapter focuses on the generation of bi- and tri-specific killer engagers (BiKEs and TriKEs) meant to target NK cells to tumors. BiKEs and TriKEs are smaller molecules composed of 2-3 variable portions of antibodies with different specificities, and represent a novel and more versatile strategy compared to traditional bi- and tri-specific antibody platforms.
Keywords: ADCC; Bi-specific; BiKE; NK; Natural killer; Redirected lysis; Targeted immunotherapy; Tri-specific; TriKE.