BL-01, an Fc-bearing, tetravalent CD20 × CD5 bispecific antibody, redirects multiple immune cells to kill tumors in vitro and in vivo

Cytotherapy. 2021 Sep 17;S1465-3249(21)00749-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2021.07.012. Online ahead of print.


Background aims: The authors describe here a novel therapeutic strategy combining a bispecific antibody (bsAb) with cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells.

Methods: The authors have designed, produced and purified a novel tetravalent IgG1-like CD20 × CD5 bsAb called BL-01. The bsAb is composed of a fused heavy chain and two free light chains that pair correctly to the heavy chain sequences thanks to complementary mutations in the monoclonal antibody 2 CH1/CL sequences.

Results: The authors show that BL-01 can bind specifically to CD20 and CD5 with an affinity of 4-6 nM, demonstrating correct pairing of two light chains to the fused heavy chain. The CD20 × CD5 BL-01 bsAb has a functional human IgG1 Fc and can induce up to 65% complement-dependent cytotoxicity of a CD20+ lymphoma cell line in the presence of human complement, similar to anti-CD20 rituximab. The bsAb also induces significant natural killer cell activation and antibody-dependent cytotoxicity of up to 25% as well as up to 65% phagocytosis by human macrophages in the presence of CD20+ tumor cells. The BL-01 bsAb binds to CD20 and CD5 simultaneously and can redirect CIK cells in vitro to kill CD20+ targets, increasing the cytotoxicity of CIK cells by about 3-fold. The authors finally show that the CD20 × CD5 BL-01 bsAb synergizes with CIK cells in vivo in controlling tumor growth and prolonging survival of nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency mice inoculated with a patient-derived, aggressive diffuse large B-cell lymphoma xenograft.

Conclusions: The authors suggest that the efficacy of bsAb in vivo is due to the combined activation of innate immunity by Fc and redirection of CIK cells to kill the tumor target.

Keywords: Aggressive lymphoma; Bispecific antibody; Cytokine-induced killer cells; Immunotherapy; Innate immunity.