Radioimmunotherapy (RIT) aims to deliver a high radiation dose to cancer cells, while minimizing the exposure of normal cells. Typically, monoclonal antibodies are used to target the radionuclides to cancer cell surface antigens. However, antibodies face limitations due to their poor tumor penetration and suboptimal pharmacokinetics, while the expression of their target on the cancer cell surface may be gradually lost. In addition, most antigens are expressed in a limited number of tumor types. To circumvent these problems, we developed a Nanobody (Nb)-based RIT against a prominent stromal cell (stromal-targeting radioimmunotherapy or STRIT) present in nearly all tumors, the tumor-associated macrophage (TAM). Macrophage Mannose Receptor (MMR) functions as a stable molecular target on TAM residing in hypoxic areas, further allowing the delivery of a high radiation dose to the more radioresistant hypoxic tumor regions. Since MMR expression is not restricted to TAM, we first optimized a strategy to block extra-tumoral MMR to prevent therapy-induced toxicity. A 100-fold molar excess of unlabeled bivalent Nb largely blocks extra-tumoral binding of 177Lu-labeled anti-MMR Nb and prevents toxicity, while still allowing the intra-tumoral binding of the monovalent Nb. Interestingly, three doses of 177Lu-labeled anti-MMR Nb resulted in a significantly retarded tumor growth, thereby outcompeting the effects of anti-PD1, anti-VEGFR2, doxorubicin and paclitaxel in the TS/A mammary carcinoma model. Together, these data propose anti-MMR STRIT as a valid new approach for cancer treatment.
Keywords: Hypoxia; Immune checkpoint blockade; Nanobody; Radioimmunotherapy; Tumor-associated macrophage.
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