Inhibition of Tumor Cell Growth and Cancer Stem Cell Expansion by a Bispecific Antibody Targeting EGFR and HER3

Mol Cancer Ther. 2020 Jul;19(7):1474-1485. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-19-1095. Epub 2020 May 19.


The frequent activation of HER3 signaling as a resistance mechanism to EGFR-targeted therapy has motivated the development of combination therapies that block more than one receptor tyrosine kinase. Here, we have developed a novel tetravalent, bispecific single-chain diabody-Fc fusion protein targeting EGFR and HER3 (also known as ErbB3) that integrates the antigen-binding sites of a humanized version of cetuximab as well as a recently developed anti-HER3 antibody, IgG 3-43. This bispecific antibody combines the binding and neutralizing properties of the parental antibodies, as observed in biochemical and in vitro two-dimensional and three-dimensional cell culture assays, and gave rise to long-lasting growth suppression in a subcutaneous xenograft head and neck tumor model. In triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell lines, treatment with the bispecific antibody inhibited the proliferation and oncosphere formation efficiency driven by HER3 signaling. In an orthotopic MDA-MB-468 tumor model, this translated into antitumor effects superior to those obtained by the parental antibodies alone or in combination and was associated with a reduced number of cells with stem-like properties. These findings demonstrate that the bispecific antibody efficiently blocks not only TNBC proliferation, but also the survival and expansion of the cancer stem cell population, holding promise for further preclinical development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bispecific / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / immunology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / immunology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Receptor, ErbB-3 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptor, ErbB-3 / immunology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antibodies, Bispecific
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ERBB3 protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-3