Cold agglutinin disease (CAD) is an autoimmune hemolytic anemia characterized by the presence of autoantibodies (cold agglutinins) that bind to red blood cells (RBC) at low temperatures. Cold agglutinin binding to RBCs results in antibody-mediated classical complement activation with deposition of complement C4 and C3 fragments onto the RBC surface. Complement-opsonized RBCs are removed from the circulation by macrophage-driven phagocytosis in the liver or spleen and via intravascular hemolysis following assembly of the terminal lytic complex (C5b - C9), together resulting in clinical anemia.
C1q is the initiating molecule for cold agglutinin-mediated complement activation on the surface of human RBCs. We hypothesized that directly blocking C1q recruitment onto cold agglutinin-sensitized RBCs will prevent complement activation and opsonization and reduce hemolysis. To this end, we have developed a humanized monoclonal antibody (ANX005) that binds with high-affinity (~10 pM) to C1q and blocks classical complement activation & hemolysis in an in vitro sheep RBC assay. We evaluated the impact of ANX005 on hemolysis and complement deposition on human RBCs that were pre-sensitized with sera from CAD subjects. ANX005 showed a dose-dependent reduction in hemolysis using both individual and pooled CAD sera as the source of cold agglutinin. We further demonstrated that C1q blockade led to a robust reduction in C4 and C3 fragment deposition onto human RBCs. These results demonstrate that C1q inhibition is an effective way to impede C4 and C3 activation and downstream assembly of the lytic complex in sera from CAD patients, and support the clinical development of ANX005 in CAD and other antibody-mediated diseases.
Gertz:Prothena Therapeutics: Research Funding; Sandoz Inc: Honoraria; NCI Frederick: Honoraria; Celgene: Honoraria; Med Learning Group: Honoraria, Speakers Bureau; Research to Practice: Honoraria, Speakers Bureau; Alnylam Pharmaceuticals: Research Funding; Novartis: Research Funding; Ionis: Research Funding; Annexon Biosciences: Research Funding; GSK: Honoraria. Qiu:Annexon Biosciences: Employment, Equity Ownership. Kendall:Annexon Biosciences: Employment, Equity Ownership. Saltarelli:Mallinckrodt: Equity Ownership; Abbvie: Equity Ownership; Annexon Biosciences: Employment, Equity Ownership, Patents & Royalties. Yednock:Annexon, Inc: Employment, Equity Ownership. Sankaranarayanan:Annexon Biosciences: Employment, Equity Ownership.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.