IgA nephropathy (IgAN) is the most prevalent primary chronic glomerular disease for which no safe disease-specific therapies currently exist. IgAN is an autoimmune disease involving the production of autoantigenic, aberrantly O-glycosylated IgA1 and ensuing deposition of nephritogenic immune complexes in the kidney. A Proliferation Inducing Ligand (APRIL) has emerged as a key B-cell-modulating factor in this pathogenesis. Using a mouse anti-APRIL monoclonal antibody (4540), we confirm both the pathogenic role of APRIL in IgAN and the therapeutic efficacy of antibody-directed neutralization of APRIL in the grouped mouse ddY disease model. Treatment with 4540 directly translated to a reduction in relevant pathogenic mechanisms including suppressed serum IgA levels, reduced circulating immune complexes, significantly lower kidney deposits of IgA, IgG and C3, and suppression of proteinuria compared to mice receiving vehicle or isotype control antibodies. Furthermore, we translated these findings to the pharmacological characterization of VIS649, a highly potent, humanized IgG2κ antibody targeting and neutralizing human APRIL through unique epitope engagement, leading to inhibition of APRIL-mediated B-cell activities. VIS649 treatment of non-human primates showed dose-dependent reduction of serum IgA levels of up to 70%. A reduction of IgA+, IgM+, and IgG+ B cells was noted in the gut-associated mucosa of VIS649-treated animals. Population-based modeling predicted a favorable therapeutic dosing profile for subcutaneous administration of VIS649 in the clinical setting. Thus, our data highlight the potential therapeutic benefit of VIS649 for the treatment of IgAN.
Keywords: B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA); IgA nephropathy (IgAN); a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL); aberrantly glycosylated IgA1 (a-g IgA1); grouped ddY mice (gddY); gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT); nonhuman primates (NHPs); transmembrane activator and CAML interactor (TACI).
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