In Vitro Assessment of Putative PD-1/PD-L1 Inhibitors: Suggestions of an Alternative Mode of Action

ACS Med Chem Lett. 2019 Jul 2;10(8):1187-1192. doi: 10.1021/acsmedchemlett.9b00221. eCollection 2019 Aug 8.


The programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) signaling axis is among the most important therapeutic targets in modern oncology. Aurigene Discovery Technologies Ltd. (Aurigene) has patented a series of peptidomimetic small molecules derived from the PD-1 protein sequence for use in targeting the interaction between PD-1 and its ligand, PD-L1. We evaluated three of Aurigene's most potent compounds in SPR binding assays. Our results showed that these compounds-each of which is known to be potently effective in a splenocyte recovery assay-do not directly inhibit the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction nor do they appear to bind to either of the constituent proteins, indicating that another mechanism is at play. As a result of these studies and upon consideration of structural features within the PD-1/PD-L1 complex, we hypothesize that the Aurigene molecules may interact with a currently unknown protein capable of regulating the PD-1 axis.