GA101 is a novel monoclonal antibody of IgG1 type which binds with high affinity and selectivity to the extracellular domain of the human CD20 antigen on B cells. In contrast to rituximab which is a chimeric antibody and recognizes a type I epitope, GA101 is humanized and recognizes a type II epitope which is also localized in the extracellular loop of CD20. The recognition of the type II epitope together with a modification of the elbow hinge region results in enhanced direct non-caspase dependent cell death induction, and concomitant reduction in CDC upon binding to CD20. In addition, using GlycoMab technology, the Fc-region of GA101 was glycoengineered to contain bisected, afucosylated carbohydrates. As a result GA101 has increased affinity for the low and high affinity FcγRIIIa receptor expressed on natural killer cells, macrophages and monocytes. Consequently, GA101 mediated a 5–50 fold enhanced induction of effector cell mediated ADCC. In B-cell depletion assays with whole blood from healthy donors, an assay combining all mechanisms of action, GA101 was significantly more potent and efficacious in depleting B cells than rituximab. In preclinical NHL testing these properties translated into superior anti-tumoral efficacy of GA101 in direct comparison to rituximab against a number of aggressive NHL xenograft models. In cynomolgus monkeys the induction of B cell depletion mediated by GA101 and subsequent B cell recovery were investigated. GA101 induced complete, rapid and long-lasting B cell depletion both in peripheral blood and in lymphoid tissue e.g. spleen and lymph nodes. The efficacy of GA101 (10 and 30 mg/kg) at depleting B cells in different lymphoid tissues of cynomolgus monkeys was compared with that of rituximab (10 mg/kg) following 2 i.v. doses administered on days 0 and 7. Notably, GA101 showed statistically superior depletion of total B cells from lymph nodes compared to Rituximab from day 9 to 35 onwards with B cell numbers decreased by over 95%. These results demonstrated that GA101 was more efficacious at depleting B cells from lymph nodes and spleen of cynomolgus monkeys compared to rituximab. Compared to existing antibodies, GA101 constitutes the first type II CD20 antibody engineered for increased ADCC with significantly enhanced efficacy in a variety of preclinical models. Based on these data it is assumed that the combination of the recognition of a type II epitope together with improved ADCC potency might translate into superior efficacy in the clinical treatment of CD20 positive malignant diseases.

Author notes

Disclosure:Employment: Employee of Glycart Biotechnology AG. Ownership Interests:; Stock owner Hoffmann La Roche AG