Comprehensive in Vitro Characterization of PD-L1 Small Molecule Inhibitors

Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 27;9(1):12392. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48826-6.


Blockade of the programmed cell death 1 (PD-1)/programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) interaction has emerged as a powerful strategy in cancer immunotherapy. Recently, there have been enormous efforts to develop potent PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors. In particular, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Aurigene Discovery Technologies have individually disclosed several promising PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors, whose detailed experimental data are not publicly disclosed. In this work, we report the rigorous and systematic in vitro characterization of a selected set of potent PD-1/PD-L1 macrocyclic peptide (BMSpep-57) and small-molecule inhibitors (BMS-103, BMS-142) from BMS and a peptidomimetic small-molecule inhibitor from Aurigene (Aurigene-1) using a series of biochemical and cell-based assays. Our results confirm that BMS-103 and BMS-142 are strongly active in biochemical assays; however, their acute cytotoxicity greatly compromised their immunological activity. On the other hand, Aurigene-1 did not show any activity in both biochemical and immunological assays. Furthermore, we also report the discovery of a small-molecule immune modulator, whose mode-of-action is not clear; however, it exhibits favorable drug-like properties and strong immunological activity. We hope that the results presented here will be useful in guiding the development of next-generation PD-1/PD-L1 small molecule inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't