Purpose: 4-1BB (CD137) is a key costimulatory immunoreceptor and promising therapeutic target in cancer. To overcome limitations of current 4-1BB-targeting antibodies, we have developed PRS-343, a 4-1BB/HER2 bispecific molecule. PRS-343 is designed to facilitate T-cell costimulation by tumor-localized, HER2-dependent 4-1BB clustering and activation.
Experimental design: PRS-343 was generated by the genetic fusion of 4-1BB-specific Anticalin proteins to a variant of trastuzumab with an engineered IgG4 isotype. Its activity was characterized using a panel of in vitro assays and humanized mouse models. The safety was assessed using ex vivo human cell assays and a toxicity study in cynomolgus monkeys.
Results: PRS-343 targets 4-1BB and HER2 with high affinity and binds both targets simultaneously. 4-1BB-expressing T cells are efficiently costimulated when incubated with PRS-343 in the presence of cancer cells expressing HER2, as evidenced by increased production of proinflammatory cytokines (IL2, GM-CSF, TNFα, and IFNγ). In a humanized mouse model engrafted with HER2-positive SK-OV-3 tumor cells and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, PRS-343 leads to tumor growth inhibition and a dose-dependent increase of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. In IND-enabling studies, PRS-343 was found to be well tolerated, with no overt toxicity and no relevant drug-related toxicologic findings.
Conclusions: PRS-343 facilitates tumor-localized targeting of T cells by bispecific engagement of HER2 and 4-1BB. This approach has the potential to provide a more localized activation of the immune system with higher efficacy and reduced peripheral toxicity compared with current monospecific approaches. The reported data led to initiation of a phase I clinical trial with this first-in-class molecule.See related commentary by Su et al., p. 5732.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.