CD37 is a 50–55 kDa heavily glycosylated member of the tetraspanin superfamily of molecules. This cell surface protein is expressed on normal and transformed B-cells, and has been implicated in diverse processes including cellular activation and proliferation, cell motility, and cell-cell adhesion. TRU-016 is a novel humanized anti-CD37 SMIP™ protein. Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that anti-CD37 SMIP™ protein mediates caspase-independent direct killing of normal and malignant B-cells, a mechanism of action that appears to be different than CD20 therapies. In addition, TRU-016 results in indirect killing through NK cell mediated SMIP-protein directed cellular cytotoxicity (SDCC). The therapeutic potential of TRU-016 against several subsets of B-cell malignancies is currently being investigated in the clinic.
The ability of TRU-016 to interact and increase cell killing with established therapeutics rituximab (anti-CD20 antibody), bendamustine (bi-functional alkylating agent/nucleoside analog), LY294002 (PI3K inhibitor) and temsirolimus (mTOR inhibitor) was investigated in vitro using the Rec-1 (mantle cell lymphoma) and SU-DHL-6 (diffuse large B cell lymphoma) cell lines. Individual drugs were tested in combination with TRU-016 as well as in a multiple drug cocktail. Combination index analyses were performed for drug combinations over the 20–90% effect levels. To determine whether in vitro synergy could be recapitulated in vivo, DoHH-2 (follicular lymphoma) xenografts were treated with TRU-016, bendamustine, and the combination of TRU-016 and bendamustine with or without rituximab. Furthermore, the effect of the dosing schedule with the combination of TRU-016 and rituximab was explored by comparing the treatment over a short time period to an extended (maintenance) dosing regimen. CD37 expression on the tumor xenografts was evaluated post different treatment by immunohistochemistry.
Combination index analyses determined that the killing effects of TRU-016 was synergistic with rituximab, bendamustine and temsirolimus in NHL models. Furthermore, TRU-016 provided additional efficacy when added to the combination of rituximab and bendamustine. In vivo results demonstrated that the in vitro synergy results were applicable to a more complex in vivo disease model. The combination of TRU-016 with bendamustine or rituximab resulted in increased tumor growth delay compared to that attained with the individual drugs. The addition of TRU-016 to the combination of bendamustine and rituximab resulted in increased tumor growth delay compared to the two drugs alone. The observed efficacy of the combination of TRU-016 and rituximab could be extended with repeated (maintenance) dosing with tumor free survival being observed beyond the 35 days of dosing. The combination of TRU-016 with temsirolimus also resulted in a reduction of tumor growth compared to either molecule alone. CD37 target expression was detected in the xenograft tumors post-treatment with all drugs tested.
TRU-016 in combination with rituximab, bendamustine or temsirolimus increased cell killing of NHL cells in vitro over that observed for each agent alone. Furthermore, the triple combination of TRU-016 with rituximab, bendamustine or temsirolimus displayed greater anti-tumor activity in vivo than each of the agents alone against a follicular lymphoma tumor model. The addition of TRU-016 to a combination of rituximab and bendamustine resulted in increased killing in vitro and in vivo. The combinatorial activity of TRU-016 and rituximab in vivo was increased when the drugs were administered over a longer period. These results provide preclinical rationale for the potential different combinations of TRU-016 with several established therapeutics for the treatment of NHL and related B-cell malignancies.
Algate:Trubion Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Wiens:Trubion Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Nilsson:Trubion Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Sho:Facet/Abbott: Employment. Chao:Facet/Abbott: Employment. Starling:Facet/Abbott: Employment. Gordon:Trubion Pharmaceuticals: Employment.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.