Despite emerging targeted and immunotherapy treatments, no monoclonal antibodies or antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) directly targeting tumor cells are currently approved for melanoma therapy. The tumor-associated antigen chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan 4 (CSPG4), a neural crest glycoprotein over-expressed on 70% of melanomas, contributes to proliferative signaling pathways, but despite highly tumor-selective expression it has not yet been targeted using ADCs. We developed a novel ADC comprising an anti-CSPG4 antibody linked to a DNA minor groove-binding agent belonging to the novel pyrridinobenzodiazepine (PDD) class. Unlike conventional DNA-interactive pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) dimer payloads that cross-link DNA, PDD-based payloads are mono-alkylating agents but have similar efficacy and substantially enhanced tolerability profiles compared to PBD-based cross-linkers. We investigated the anti-tumor activity and safety of the anti-CSPG4-(PDD) ADC in vitro and in human melanoma xenografts. Anti-CSPG4-(PDD) inhibited CSPG4-expressing melanoma cell growth and colony formation and triggered apoptosis in vitro at low nanomolar to picomolar concentrations without off-target Fab-mediated or Fc-mediated toxicity. Anti-CSPG4-(PDD) restricted xenograft growth in vivo at 2 mg/kg doses. One 5 mg/kg injection triggered tumor regression in the absence of overt toxic effects or of acquired residual tumor cell resistance. This anti-CSPG4-(PDD) can deliver a highly cytotoxic DNA mono-alkylating payload to CSPG4-expressing tumors at doses tolerated in vivo.
- Antibody-drug conjugate (ADC)
- DNA-binding agent