Immune checkpoint therapies have shown tremendous promise in cancer therapy. However, tools to assess their target engagement, and hence ability to predict their efficacy, have been lacking. Here, we show that target engagement and tumor residence kinetics of antibody therapeutics targeting the programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) can be quantified non-invasively. In computational docking studies, we observed that PD-L1-targeted antibodies (atezolizumab, avelumab, durvalumab) and a high affinity PD-L1 binding peptide, WL12, have common interaction sites on PD-L1. Using the peptide radiotracer [64Cu]WL12 in vivo, we employed positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and biodistribution studies, in multiple xenograft models and demonstrated that variable PD-L1 expression and its saturation by atezolizumab, avelumab, and durvalumab can be quantified independent of biophysical properties and pharmacokinetics of antibodies. Next, we used [64Cu]WL12 to evaluate the impact of time and dose on free fraction of tumor PD-L1 levels during treatment. These quantitative measures enabled, by mathematical modeling, prediction of antibody doses needed to achieve therapeutically effective occupancy (defined as >90%). Thus, we show that peptide-based PET is a promising tool for optimizing dose and therapeutic regimens employing PD-L1 checkpoint antibodies, and can be used for improving therapeutic efficacy.
Dhiraj Kumar, Ala Lisok, Elyes Dahmane, Matthew D. McCoy, Sagar Shelake, Samit Chatterjee, Viola Allaj, Polina Sysa-Shah, Bryan Wharram, Wojciech G. Lesniak, Ellen Tully, Edward Gabrielson, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, John T. Poirier, Charles M. Rudin, Jogarao V.S. Gobburu, Martin G. Pomper, Sridhar Nimmagadda
Current thalassemia gene therapy protocols require the collection of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs), in vitro culture, lentivirus vector transduction, and retransplantation into myelo-ablated patients. Because of cost and technical complexity, it is unlikely that such protocols will be applicable in developing countries where the greatest demand for a beta-thalassemia therapy lies. We have developed a simple in vivo HSPC gene therapy approach that involved HSPC mobilization and an intravenous injection of integrating HDAd5/35++ vectors. Transduced HSPCs homed back to the bone marrow where they persisted long-term. HDAd5/35++ vectors for in vivo gene therapy of thalassemia had a unique capsid that targeted primitive HSPCs through human CD46, a relatively safe SB100X transposase-based integration machinery, a micro-LCR driven gamma-globin gene and, a MGMT(P140K) system that allowed for increasing the therapeutic effect by short-term treatment with low-dose O6BG/BCNU. We showed in “healthy” human CD46 transgenic mice and in a mouse model of thalassemia intermedia that our in vivo approach resulted in stable gamma-globin expression in the majority of circulating red blood cells. The high marking frequency was maintained in secondary recipients. In the thalassemia model, a near complete phenotypic correction was achieved. The treatment was well tolerated. This cost-efficient and “portable” approach could permit a broader clinical application of thalassemia gene therapy.
Hongjie Wang, Aphrodite Georgakopoulou, Nikoletta Psatha, Chang Li, Chrysi Capsali, Himanshu Bhusan Samal, Achilles Anagnostopoulos, Anja Ehrhardt, Zsuzsanna Izsvák, Thalia Papayannopoulou, Evangelia Yannaki, André Lieber
Tumor-associated myeloid cells maintain immunosuppressive microenvironments within tumors. Identification of myeloid-specific receptors to modulate tumor-associated macrophage and myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) functions remains challenging. The leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor B (LILRB) family members are negative regulators of myeloid cell activation. We investigated how LILRB targeting could modulate tumor-associated myeloid cell function. LILRB2 antagonism inhibited receptor-mediated activation of SHP1/2 and enhanced proinflammatory responses. LILRB2 antagonism also inhibited AKT and STAT6 activation in the presence of M-CSF and IL-4. Transcriptome analysis revealed that LILRB2 antagonism altered genes involved in cell cytoskeleton remodeling, lipid/cholesterol metabolism, and endosomal sorting pathways, as well as changed differentiation gene networks associated with inflammatory myeloid cells as opposed to their alternatively activated phenotype. LILRB2 blockade effectively suppressed granulocytic MDSC and Treg infiltration and significantly promoted in vivo antitumor effects of T cell immune checkpoint inhibitors. Furthermore, LILRB2 blockade polarized tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells from non–small cell lung carcinoma tumor tissues toward an inflammatory phenotype. Our studies suggest that LILRB2 can potentially act as a myeloid immune checkpoint by reprogramming tumor-associated myeloid cells and provoking antitumor immunity.
Hui-Ming Chen, William van der Touw, Yuan Shuo Wang, Kyeongah Kang, Sunny Mai, Jilu Zhang, Dayanira Alsina-Beauchamp, James A. Duty, Sathish Kumar Mungamuri, Bin Zhang, Thomas Moran, Richard Flavell, Stuart Aaronson, Hong-Ming Hu, Hisashi Arase, Suresh Ramanathan, Raja Flores, Ping-Ying Pan, Shu-Hsia Chen
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) play a key role in antiviral responses by producing type-1 IFNs. However, recent studies showed that pDCs induce immune suppression and promote tumor growth in human ovarian cancer and myeloma. The molecular mechanisms underlying pDC acquisition of these properties are unknown. Here we show that human pDCs activated by CpG inhibited growth and induced apoptosis in myeloma cells via secreted IFN-α, but direct contact with myeloma cells converted pDCs into tumor-promoting cells by suppressing pDC IFN-α production. E-cadherin, expressed on both myeloma cells and pDCs, mediated these effects via a homophilic interaction — activation of E-cadherin signaling upregulated and activated TNFAIP3 to interact with TLR9, resulting in TLR9 ubiquitination and degradation, and inhibition of IFN-α production in pDCs. These findings were supported by an in vivo study in which pDC depletion induced tumor regression and better survival in the Vk*MYC myeloma mouse model. Furthermore, IFNAR1 expression level positively correlated to overall survival of patients with multiple myeloma (MM), and the IFN-α level in patient bone marrow was significantly lower than that in marrow of healthy individuals. This study reveals a novel mechanism underlying how MM tumors educate pDCs in their microenvironment and provides new targets for improving the treatment of MM.
Enguang Bi, Rong Li, Laura C. Bover, Haiyan Li, Pan Su, Xingzhe Ma, Chunjian Huang, Qiang Wang, Lintao Liu, Maojie Yang, Zhijuan Lin, Jianfei Qian, Weijun Fu, Yong-Jun Liu, Qing Yi
Previous findings showed that in mice, complete knockout of activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) abolishes brain formation, while haploinsufficiency (Adnp+/–) causes cognitive impairments. We hypothesized that mutations in ADNP lead to a developmental/autistic syndrome in children. Indeed, recent phenotypic characterization of children harboring ADNP mutations (ADNP syndrome children) revealed global developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, including speech and motor dysfunctions. Mechanistically, ADNP includes a SIP motif embedded in the ADNP-derived snippet, drug candidate NAP (NAPVSIPQ also known as CP201), which binds to microtubule end binding protein 3, essential for dendritic spine formation. Here, we established a unique neuronal membrane tagged green fluorescent protein expressing Adnp+/– mouse line allowing in vivo synaptic pathology quantification. We discovered that Adnp deficiency reduced dendritic spine density and altered synaptic gene expression, both of which were partly ameliorated by NAP treatment. Adnp+/– mice further exhibited global developmental delays, vocalization impediments, gait/motor dysfunctions and social/object memory impairments, all partially reversed by daily NAP administration (systemic/nasal). In conclusion, we now connected ADNP-related synaptic pathology to developmental/behavioral outcomes, establishing NAP in vivo target engagement and identifying potential biomarkers. Together, these studies pave the path toward clinical development of NAP (CP201) in the ADNP syndrome.
Gal Hacohen-Kleiman, Shlomo Sragovich, Gidon Karmon, Andy Y. L. Gao, Iris Grigg, Metsada Pasmanik-Chor, Albert Le, Vlasta Korenková, R. Anne McKinney, Illana Gozes
BACKGROUND. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), plasma exchange and immunoadsorption are frequently used in the management of severe autoimmune diseases mediated by pathogenic IgG autoantibodies. These approaches to modulate IgG levels can however be associated with some severe adverse reactions and significant burden to patients. Targeting the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) presents an innovative and potentially more effective, safer, and convenient alternative for clearing pathogenic IgGs. METHODS. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled first-in-human study was conducted in 62 healthy volunteers to explore single and multiple ascending intravenous doses of the FcRn antagonist efgartigimod. The study objectives were to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and immunogenicity. The findings of this study were compared with the pharmacodynamics profile elicited by efgartigimod in cynomolgus monkeys. RESULTS. Efgartigimod treatment resulted in a rapid and specific clearance of serum IgG levels in both cynomolgus monkeys and healthy volunteers. In humans, single administration of efgartigimod reduced IgG levels up to 50% whilst multiple dosing further lowered IgGs on average by 75% of baseline levels. Approximately 8 weeks following the last administration, IgG levels returned to baseline. Efgartigimod did not alter the homeostasis of albumin or immunoglobulins other than IgG and no serious adverse events related to efgartigimod infusion were observed. CONCLUSION. Antagonizing FcRn using efgartigimod is safe and results in a specific, profound, and sustained reduction of serum IgG levels. These results warrant further evaluation of this therapeutic approach in IgG-driven autoimmune diseases. TRIAL REGISTRATION. Clinicaltrials.gov NCT03457649. FUNDING. argenx bvba.
Peter Ulrichts, Antonio Guglietta, Torsten Dreier, Tonke van Bragt, Valérie Hanssens, Erik Hofman, Bernhardt Vankerckhoven, Peter Verheesen, Nicolas Ongenae, Valentina Lykhopiy, F. Javier Enriquez, JunHaeng Cho, Raimund J. Ober, E. Sally Ward, Hans de Haard, Nicolas Leupin
Oxidative stress is an underlying component of acute and chronic kidney disease. Apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) is a widely expressed redox-sensitive serine threonine kinase that activates p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases, and induces apoptotic, inflammatory, and fibrotic signaling in settings of oxidative stress. Herein, we describe the discovery and characterization of a potent and selective small molecule inhibitor of ASK1, GS-444217, and demonstrate the therapeutic potential of ASK1 inhibition to reduce kidney injury and fibrosis. Activation of the ASK1 pathway in glomerular and tubular compartments was confirmed in renal biopsies from patients with diabetic kidney disease (DKD) and was decreased by GS-444217 in several rodent models of kidney injury and fibrosis that collectively represented the hallmarks of DKD pathology. Treatment with GS-444217 reduced progressive inflammation and fibrosis in the kidney and halted decline of glomerular filtration rate. Combination of GS-444217 with enalapril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, led to a greater reduction in proteinuria and regression of glomerulosclerosis. These results identify ASK1 as an important target for renal disease and support the clinical development of an ASK1 inhibitor for the treatment of diabetic kidney disease.
John T. Liles, Britton K. Corkey, Gregory T. Notte, Grant Budas, Eric B. Lansdon, Ford Hinojosa-Kirschenbaum, Shawn S. Badal, Michael Lee, Brian E. Schultz, Sarah Wise, Swetha Pendem, Michael Graupe, Laurie Castonguay, Keith A. Koch, Melanie H. Wong, Giuseppe A. Papalia, Dorothy M. French, Theodore Sullivan, Erik G. Huntzicker, Frank Y. Ma, David J. Nikolic-Paterson, Tareq Altuhaifi, Haichun Yang, Agnes B. Fogo, David G. Breckenridge
The MALT1 paracaspase plays an essential role in Activated B-cell like Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma (ABC DLBCL) downstream of B cell and Toll-like receptor pathway genes mutated in these tumors. Although MALT1 is considered to be a compelling therapeutic target, development of tractable and specific MALT1 protease inhibitors has thus far been elusive. Herein, we developed a target engagement assay that provides a quantitative readout for specific MALT1 inhibitory effects in living cells. This enabled a structure-guided medicinal chemistry effort culminating in the discovery of pharmacologically tractable irreversible substrate-mimetic compounds that bind the MALT1 active site. We confirmed MALT1 targeting with compound #3 is effective at suppressing ABC DLBCL cells in vitro and in vivo. We show that reduction in serum IL10 levels exquisitely correlates with drug PK and degree of MALT1 inhibition in vitro and in vivo and could constitute a useful pharmacodynamic biomarker to evaluate these compounds in clinical trials. Compound #3 revealed insights into the biology of MALT1 in ABC DLBCL, such as driving JAK-STAT signaling and suppressing type I interferon (IFN) response and MHC class II expression, suggesting that MALT1 inhibition could prime lymphomas for immune recognition by cytotoxic immune cells.
Lorena Fontán, Qi Qiao, John M. Hatcher, Gabriella Casalena, Ilkay Us, Matt Teater, Matthew Durant, Guangyan Du, Min Xia, Natalia Bilchuk, Spandan Chennamadhavuni, Giuseppe Palladino, Giorgio Inghirami, Ulrike Philippar, Hao Wu, David A. Scott, Nathanael S. Gray, Ari Melnick
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) are responsible for 20% of familial ALS. Given the gain of toxic function in this dominantly inherited disease, lowering SOD1 mRNA and protein is predicted to provide therapeutic benefit. An early generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) targeting SOD1 was identified and tested in a phase I human clinical trial, based on modest protection in animal models of SOD1 ALS. Although the clinical trial provided encouraging safety data, the drug was not advanced because there was progress in designing other, more potent ASOs for CNS application. We have developed next-generation SOD1 ASOs that more potently reduce SOD1 mRNA and protein and extend survival by more than 50 days in SOD1G93A rats and by almost 40 days in SOD1G93A mice. We demonstrated that the initial loss of compound muscle action potential in SOD1G93A mice is reversed after a single dose of SOD1 ASO. Furthermore, increases in serum phospho-neurofilament heavy chain levels, a promising biomarker for ALS, are stopped by SOD1 ASO therapy. These results define a highly potent, new SOD1 ASO ready for human clinical trial and suggest that at least some components of muscle response can be reversed by therapy.
Alex McCampbell, Tracy Cole, Amy J. Wegener, Giulio S. Tomassy, Amy Setnicka, Brandon J. Farley, Kathleen M. Schoch, Mariah L. Hoye, Mark Shabsovich, Linhong Sun, Yi Luo, Mingdi Zhang, Sai Thankamony, David W. Salzman, Merit Cudkowicz, Danielle L. Graham, C. Frank Bennett, Holly B. Kordasiewicz, Eric E. Swayze, Timothy M. Miller
Cancer cell dependence on activated oncogenes is targeted therapeutically, but acquired resistance is virtually unavoidable. Here we show that the treatment of addicted melanoma cells with BRAF-inhibitors, and of breast cancer cells with HER2-targeted drugs, led to an adaptive rise in Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) expression, which is crucial for the onset of acquired resistance to therapy. Moreover, NRP1 levels dictated the efficacy of MET oncogene-inhibitors in addicted stomach and lung carcinoma cells. Mechanistically, NRP1 induced a JNK-dependent signaling cascade leading to the upregulation of alternative effector kinases, EGFR or IGF1R, which in turn sustained cancer cell growth and mediated acquired resistance to BRAF, HER2, or MET inhibitors. Notably, the combination with NRP1-interfering molecules improved the efficacy of oncogene-targeted drugs, and prevented, or even reversed, the onset of resistance in cancer cells and tumor models. Our study provides the rationale for targeting the NRP1-dependent upregulation of tyrosine kinases, responsible for loss of responsiveness to oncogene-targeted therapies.
Sabrina Rizzolio, Gabriella Cagnoni, Chiara Battistini, Stefano Bonelli, Claudio Isella, Jo A. Van Ginderachter, René Bernards, Federica Di Nicolantonio, Silvia Giordano, Luca Tamagnone
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