CDH17 nanobodies facilitate rapid imaging of gastric cancer and efficient delivery of immunotoxin

Biomater Res. 2022 Nov 26;26(1):64. doi: 10.1186/s40824-022-00312-3.


Background: It is highly desirable to develop new therapeutic strategies for gastric cancer given the low survival rate despite improvement in the past decades. Cadherin 17 (CDH17) is a membrane protein highly expressed in cancers of digestive system. Nanobody represents a novel antibody format for cancer targeted imaging and drug delivery. Nanobody targeting CHD17 as an imaging probe and a delivery vehicle of toxin remains to be explored for its theragnostic potential in gastric cancer.

Methods: Naïve nanobody phage library was screened against CDH17 Domain 1-3 and identified nanobodies were extensively characterized with various assays. Nanobodies labeled with imaging probe were tested in vitro and in vivo for gastric cancer detection. A CDH17 Nanobody fused with toxin PE38 was evaluated for gastric cancer inhibition in vitro and in vivo.

Results: Two nanobodies (A1 and E8) against human CDH17 with high affinity and high specificity were successfully obtained. These nanobodies could specifically bind to CDH17 protein and CDH17-positive gastric cancer cells. E8 nanobody as a lead was extensively determined for tumor imaging and drug delivery. It could efficiently co-localize with CDH17-positive gastric cancer cells in zebrafish embryos and rapidly visualize the tumor mass in mice within 3 h when conjugated with imaging dyes. E8 nanobody fused with toxin PE38 showed excellent anti-tumor effect and remarkably improved the mice survival in cell-derived (CDX) and patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models. The immunotoxin also enhanced the anti-tumor effect of clinical drug 5-Fluorouracil.

Conclusions: The study presents a novel imaging and drug delivery strategy by targeting CDH17. CDH17 nanobody-based immunotoxin is potentially a promising therapeutic modality for clinical translation against gastric cancer.

Keywords: Cadherin-17; Gastric cancer; Immunotoxin; Jingbo Ma, Xiaolong Xu and Chunjin Fu are contribute equally to this work and share the first-authorship.; Nanobody; Targeted therapy.