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2679 B-Cell Targeting Anti-CD37 Humanized Antibodies Engineered for Potent Effector Functions and Extended Plasma Half-Life

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 605. Molecular Pharmacology and Drug Resistance: Lymphoid Neoplasms: Poster II
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Biological therapies, Antibody Therapy, Translational Research, Lymphomas, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, drug development, Diseases, immune mechanism, Therapies, Lymphoid Malignancies, Monoclonal Antibody Therapy, Biological Processes
Sunday, December 11, 2022, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Elisa Fiorito, PhD1*, Roman Generalov1*, Stian Foss, PhD2,3*, Helen Heyerdahl, PhD1*, Ada Repetto-Llamazares, PhD1*, Veronique Pascal, PhD, PharmD1*, Geir E Tjønnfjord, MD4,5, Sigrid Strand Skånland, PhD5,6*, Jan Terje Andersen, PhD2,3* and Jostein Dahle, PhD1*

1Research and Development department, Nordic Nanovector ASA, Oslo, Norway
2Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway
3Institute of Clinical Medicine and Department of Pharmacology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
4Department of Haematology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
5K.G. Jebsen Centre for B cell malignancies and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway;, Oslo, Norway
6Department of Cancer Immunology, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, Montebello, Oslo, Norway, Oslo, Norway

Background: CD37 is a tetraspanin protein abundant on the surface of B-cells but absent in hematopoietic stem cells and plasma cells. Its expression pattern has attracted interest as a therapeutic target for B-cell malignancies including non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL), a heterogeneous disease with substantial unmet clinical need due to relapse and resistance to currently available treatments. During the last years, different approaches have been followed to exploit CD37 in targeting malignant B-cells, such as the generation of CAR-T cells and monoclonal antibodies. Of note, the anti-CD37 antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) naratuximab emtansine and the CD37-targeting radioimmunotherapy (RIT) Betalutin have shown efficacy in NHL patients during clinical testing.

Here we report on the design of humanized anti-CD37 IgG1 antibodies (NNV029, NNV031 and NNV032) that are equipped with a unique Fc technology and N-glycan engineering for enhanced effector functions and extended plasma half-life.

Methods: The humanized anti-CD37 candidates were characterized in vitro and in vivo and benchmarked against the anti-CD20 antibodies approved for NHL treatment, rituximab and obinutuzumab, and a recombinant version of the bi-paratopic anti-CD37 antibody DuoHexaBody-CD37, currently in Phase I clinical development. We assessed their Fcγ receptor binding properties and their ability to induce antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC), antibody-dependent cell-mediated phagocytosis (ADCP) and complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) against CD37-expressing NHL cell lines and patient-derived chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells. Moreover, we evaluated their human FcRn binding and transport properties using the human endothelial recycling assay (HERA) followed by studies in human FcRn (Tg32) expressing mice. Lastly, we compared the therapeutic efficacy of the humanized antibodies versus obinutuzumab and recombinant DuoHexaBody-CD37 in a xenograft disseminated Daudi tumor model in Tg32 mice.

Results: We revealed that the designed anti-CD37 IgG1 candidates have higher affinity towards FcγRIIa expressed on macrophages and that afucosylation enhanced FcγRIII engagement. Accordingly, using cell-based effector assays, potent ADCP and ADCC were measured. In NHL Burkitt’s lymphoma cell lines, ADCP induction by the anti-CD37 humanized antibodies was higher than that displayed by obinutuzumab, rituximab and recombinant DuoHexaBody-CD37, while in DLBCL and MCL cell models it was in a similar range or slightly lower than that shown by the benchmarking antibodies. Moreover, the afucosylated version promoted very strong ADCC, which was superior to that of recombinant DuoHexaBody-CD37 and rituximab, but comparable to that of the afucosylated antibody obinutuzumab. In contrast, all the humanized anti-CD37 IgG1 candidates displayed very modest CDC activation.

Fc-engineering for enhanced human FcRn binding was shown to increase human FcRn-mediated rescue from intracellular degradation, which translated into prolonged plasma half-life in Tg32 mice of the anti-CD37 IgG1 antibodies. Finally, all the designed anti-CD37 antibodies performed significantly better than vehicle control treatment in treating Daudi-induced disease in vivo, showing equal therapeutic effect as that of obinutuzumab and recombinant DuoHexaBody-CD37.

Conclusions: Taken together, the humanized and Fc-engineered anti-CD37 antibodies show potent effector functions, favorable pharmacokinetic properties and in vivo therapeutic efficacy. As such, the designed CD37 antibodies should be attractive modalities in targeted treatment of B cell malignancies, such as NHL, including lymphomas non-responding to anti-CD20 treatments, but also potentially for B-cell driven autoimmune disorders.

Disclosures: Fiorito: Nordic Nanovector ASA: Current Employment, Current holder of stock options in a privately-held company. Generalov: Nordic Nanovector ASA: Current Employment, Current holder of stock options in a privately-held company. Heyerdahl: Nordic Nanovector ASA: Current Employment, Current equity holder in publicly-traded company. Repetto-Llamazares: Nordic Nanovector ASA: Current Employment, Current equity holder in publicly-traded company, Current holder of stock options in a privately-held company. Pascal: Veronique Pascal: Current Employment, Current equity holder in publicly-traded company, Current holder of stock options in a privately-held company. Skånland: TG Therapeutics: Research Funding; BeiGene: Research Funding; AstraZeneca: Honoraria; Abbvie: Honoraria. Andersen: Argenx: Other: Funding as part of fee-for-service agreement , Research Funding; Authera AS: Other: Co-founder. Dahle: Nordic Nanovector ASA: Current Employment, Current equity holder in publicly-traded company, Current holder of stock options in a privately-held company.

*signifies non-member of ASH