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341 Cord Blood Derived Natural Killer Cells Loaded with a Tetravalent Bispecific Antibody Construct (AFM13) As Off-the-Shelf Cell Therapy for CD30+ Malignancies

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Type: Oral
Session: 625. Lymphoma: Pre-Clinical—Chemotherapy and Biologic Agents: Immunologic approaches
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Biological, antibodies, Therapies, immunotherapy, NK cells
Sunday, December 2, 2018: 10:30 AM
Room 28D (San Diego Convention Center)

Lucila Kerbauy, MD1, Mecit Kaplan, MS1*, Pinaki P Banerjee, PhD1*, Francesca Lorraine Wei Inng Lim, MD1*, Ana Karen Nunes Cortes, MD1*, May Daher1, Mayela Carolina Mendt, PhD1*, Rafet Basar, MD1*, Li Li, MD1*, Muharrem Muftuoglu, MD1*, Hila Shaim, MD1*, Mayra Shanley, PhD1*, Enli Liu, MD1*, Sonny Ang, PhD1*, Rong Cai, BS1*, Vandana Nandivada1*, Richard E Champlin, MD1, Joachim Koch, PhD2*, Martin Treder, PhD2*, Elizabeth J. Shpall, MD3 and Katy Rezvani, MD, PhD1

1Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
2Affimed GmbH, Heidelberg, Germany
3Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Chimeric antigen receptors to redirect T cell specificity against tumor antigens have shown remarkable clinical responses against CD19+ malignancies. However, the manufacture of an engineered autologous T cell product is expensive and cumbersome. Natural killer (NK) cells provide an alternative source of immune effectors for the treatment of cancer. NK cell cytolytic function can be directed towards specific targets by exploiting their ability to mediate antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) through the NK cell Fc receptor, CD16 (FcγRIIIa). AFM13 is a tetravalent bispecific antibody construct based on Affimed’s ROCK™ platform. AFM13 is bispecific for CD30 and CD16A, designed for the treatment of CD30 expressing malignancies. It binds CD16A on the surface of NK cells, thus activating and recruiting them to CD30 expressing tumor cells and mediating subsequent tumor cell killing. Since autologous NK effector function is impaired in many patients with malignancies, we propose to overcome this by the use of allogeneic NK cells in combination with AFM13. Cord blood (CB) is a readily available (“off-the-shelf”) source of allogeneic NK cells that can be expanded to large, highly functional therapeutic doses. The feasibility and safety of therapy with allogeneic ex vivo expanded CB-derived NK cells have been shown by our group and others.

In this study, we hypothesized that we can redirect the specificity of NK cells against CD30+ malignancies by preloading ex vivo activated and expanded CB-derived NK cells with AFM13 prior to adoptive infusion. Briefly, mononuclear cells were isolated from fresh or frozen CB units by ficoll density gradient centrifugation. CD56+ NK cells were cultured with rhIL-12, rhIL-18 and rhIL-15 for 16 hrs, followed by ex vivo expansion with rhIL-2 and irradiated (100 Gy) K562-based feeder cells expressing membrane-bound IL-21 and CD137-ligand (2:1 feeder cell:NK ratio). After 14 days, NK cells were loaded with serial dilutions of AFM13 (0.1, 1, 10 and 100 mg/ml). After washing twice with PBS, we tested the effector function of AFM13-loaded NK-cells (AFM13-NK) compared to expanded CB-NK cells without AFM13 against Karpas-299 (CD30 positive) and Daudi (CD30 negative) lymphoma cell lines by 51Cr release and intracellular cytokine production assays. AFM13-NK cells killed Karpas-299 cells more effectively at all effector:target ratios tested than unloaded NK cells (Figure 1) and produced statistically more INFγ and CD107a (P=0.0034; P=0.0031 respectively, n=4). In contrast, AFM13-NK cells and unloaded NK cells exerted similar cytotoxicity against Daudi cells. Next, we established the optimal concentration of AFM13 for loading (determined to be 100 μg/ml) and the optimal incubation time to obtain maximal activity (1 h) in a series of in vitro experiments. We also confirmed that the activity of AFM13-NK cells against Karpas-299 cells remains stable for at least 72h post-wash (Figure 2).

Additionally, we characterized the phenotype of AFM13-NK vs. unloaded NK cells by flow cytometry using monoclonal antibodies against 22 markers, including markers of activation, inhibitory receptors, exhaustion markers and transcription factors. Compared to unloaded NK cells, AFM13-NK cells expressed higher levels of CD25, CD69, TRAIL, NKp44, granzyme B and CD57, consistent with an activated phenotype.

We next tested the in vivo anti-tumor efficacy of AFM13-NK cells in an immunodeficient mouse model of FFluc-Karpas-299. Briefly, six groups of NOD/SCID/IL2Rγc null mice (n=5 per group) were transplanted by tail-vein injection with 1 x 10e5 FFluc-transduced Karpas cells. Group 1 and 6 received tumor alone or tumor + AFM13 and served as a control. Groups 2-4 receive Karpas FFLuc with either expanded NK cells or AFM13-NK cells (NK cells loaded with AFM13) or expanded NK cells and AFM13 injected separately. Group 5 received AFM13-NK cells without tumor. Initial studies confirm the antitumor activity of AFM13-NK cells.

In summary, we have developed a novel premixed product, comprised of expanded CB-NK cells loaded with AFM13 to ‘redirect’ their specificity against CD30+ malignancies. The encouraging in vitro and in vivo data observed in this study, provide a strong rationale for a clinical trial to test the strategy of an off-the-shelf adoptive immunotherapy with AFM13-loaded CB-NK cells in patients with relapsed/refractory CD30+ malignancies.

Disclosures: Kerbauy: Affimed: Research Funding. Champlin: Sanofi: Research Funding; Otsuka: Research Funding. Koch: Affimed GmbH: Employment. Treder: Affimed GmbH: Employment. Shpall: Affirmed GmbH: Research Funding. Rezvani: Affirmed GmbH: Research Funding.

*signifies non-member of ASH