Complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) is a key mechanism of Rituximab® (RTX) action in killing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) cells both in vitro and in vivo. Here we present studies of a mouse/human chimeric monoclonal antibody (Mab), ETI-210, specific for human complement C3 cleavage products C3b and iC3b, in enhancing RTX- mediated killing in vitro and ex vivo. Raji (NHL), primary NHL, and CLL cells were treated with RTX and ETI-210 in the presence of normal human serum (NHS) as a source of complement. Cell death was determined by propidium iodide staining or reduction of Alamar Blue®. After 1 hour of treatment, the killing of Raji cells by RTX plus ETI-210 plus NHS was observed to be 30–70% greater than that of RTX alone plus NHS by either detection method. The enhancing effect of ETI-210 was also seen in longer-term treatment (1 – 2 days). The killing by RTX plus ETI-210 was much lower in the absence of NHS than in the presence of NHS. ETI-210 was also tested ex vivo against primary cells from 12 NHL and 9 CLL patients. In 5 NHL samples, ETI-210 significantly enhanced RTX-mediated killing; in the remaining samples RTX alone already caused killing above 90%. The Mab also increased RTX-mediated killing in 4 out of 9 CLL samples. A pilot study examining the safety of administrating ETI-210 (5 and 30 mg/kg) with or without RTX was performed in cynomolgus monkeys. There were no cardiovascular changes. Clinical chemistry (potassium, glucose, sodium), liver function (alkaline phosphatase, ALT, albumin, total protein), kidney function (BUN, creatine, serum electrolytes) and hematological parameters (CBC profile, hemoglobin, MCV, MCH, MCHC) were not changed significantly. There was a transient reduction in CH50 values in the 30mg/kg ETI-210 group, which was independent of RTX administration. Serum concentrations of C3 and C4 were not affected. Because, ETI-210, a chimeric anti-C3b/iC3b Mab, was able to substantially enhance RTX-mediated killing of lymphoma cells via complement-mediated lysis and did not cause toxicity in monkeys, ETI-210 is being developed as a therapeutic agent for NHL and CLL treatment.

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