Human CD19 antigen is a 95 kilodalton type I transmembrane glycoprotein belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily (Wang, Wei, & Liu, 2012). The role of CD19, both in health and disease, is well studied, and the therapeutic efficacy and safety of CD19 modulation have been well defined over several decades (Scheuermann & Racila, 1995). In normal human tissue, expression of CD19 is limited to the various stages of B-cell development and differentiation (except plasma cells) and its expression is maintained on the majority of B-cell malignancies, including B-cell leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphomas of B-cell origin. CD19 has rapid internalization kinetics and it is not shed into the circulation (Blanc et al., 2011; Gerber et al., 2009). All these features make CD19 an attractive target for the development of an ADC to treat B-cell malignancies.

ADCT-402 is an ADC composed of a humanized antibody directed against human CD19, stochastically conjugated via a valine-alanine cleavable, maleimide linker to a PBD dimer cytotoxin. PBD dimers are highly efficient anticancer drugs that covalently bind in the minor groove of DNA and form cytotoxic DNA interstrand cross-links. The average drug to antibody ratio of ADCT-402 is 2.3 ± 0.3, as shown by hydrophobic interaction chromatography and reverse-phase HPLC.

In vitro, ADCT-402 demonstrated potent cytotoxicity in a panel of human-derived cell lines of differing levels of CD19, while its potency was strongly reduced in CD19-negative cell lines.

In vivo, ADCT-402 demonstrated dose-dependent anti-tumor activity in a subcutaneously implanted human Burkitt's lymphoma-derived Ramos xenograft model, where a single dose at 0.33 mg/kg induced significantly delayed tumor growth compared to the vehicle-treated mice and at 0.66 mg/kg and 1 mg/kg gave 4/10 and 10/10 tumor-free survivors, respectively. In the same model, ADCT-402 showed remarkably superior anti-tumor activity compared to both maytansinoid- and auristatin-based CD19-targeting ADCs, when they were tested at the same dose and schedule (1 mg/kg, single dose). Moreover, ADCT-402 mediated an impressive increase in survival compared to both vehicle-treated and isotype control ADC-treated mice in the disseminated Ramos xenograft model when tested as a single dose at 0.33 mg/kg or 1 mg/kg. For example, a single dose of ADCT-402 at 1 mg/kg resulted in 10/10 survivors at day 91, while there were 0/10 survivors at day 19 in the group of animals treated with either the vehicle control or with a single dose of the non-binding, control ADC at 1 mg/kg.

In rat, a single dose of ADCT-402 at 2 mg/kg was well tolerated with no adverse signs or hematologic effects.

Altogether, these data show the potent and specific anti-tumor activity of ADCT-402 against CD19-expressing B-cell malignancies, both in vitro and in vivo, and warrant further development of this ADC into the clinic.


Zammarchi:ADC Therapeutics: Employment. Williams:Spirogen/Medimmune: Employment. Adams:Spirogen/Medimmune: Employment, Equity Ownership. Havenith:ADC Therapeutics: Employment. Chivers:ADC Therapeutics: Employment. D'Hooge:Spirogen/Medimmune: Employment, Equity Ownership. Howard:ADCT Spirogen/Medimmune: Employment, Equity Ownership, Patents & Royalties. Hartley:ADCT Spirogen/Medimmune: Employment, Equity Ownership, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. van Berkel:ADC Therapeutics: Employment, Equity Ownership, Patents & Royalties.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.