Immunotherapies targeting B-lineage-specific surface marker CD19 had demonstrated promising clinical results. Two CD19 CAR-T therapies (Kymriah® and Yescarta®) have been approved by FDA to treat patients with B cell malignancies, however, the complicated manufacturing process and low throughput limit its accessibility to more patients, especially in developing countries. The first CD3-activating bi-specific antibody targeting CD19, Blincyto, or CD19 BiTE, was approved to treat relapsed and refractory acute lymphoblastic lymphoma (r/r ALL). The relatively short half-life of Blincyto requires continuous IV infusion for weeks to maintain a steady levels of drug exposure, not to mention the high risk of developing severe cytokine release syndrome in patients.

We had established a bispecific antibody platform ITabTM (immunotherapy antibody) for the generation of CD3-activating bi-specific antibodies that could potentially overcome the shortcomings of BiTEs. A CH1 domain was introduced into the ITabTM construct design with the intent to increase the molecular weight thus led to extend the serum half-life of the bispecific antibody. A novel CD3-activating and monkey cross-reactive antibody was generated with a less degree of T cell activation and cytokine release compared to BiTEs. A bi-valent binding to tumor associated antigen (TAA) format was established to target tumor cells and/or stem cells expressing very low levels of TAA. We report here the biological properties of the mono-valent/bi-valent binding of CD19 bi-specific antibody with CD3-activating activity (A-319/A-329).

A series of studies were conducted to evaluate the bioactivities of A-319/A-329 in vitro and in vivo including binding to CD3 and CD19 antigens, T-cell and B-cell binding activities, T cell activation and proliferation and B cell killing activities in vitro as well as in vivo efficacy using human PBMC engrafted mouse xenograft models. The in vitro data showed that the mono-valent and bi-valent CD19 binding had little effect on the CD3-associated activities including CD3 antigen binding affinity, T cell binding and T cell activation. In contrast, the bi-valent binding format A-329 showed better potency compared to the mono-valent format A-319 in CD19 binding (KD 0.89 nM vs 19.4 nM); B cell binding (EC50 at 2.3 pM vs 462 pM); in vitro human B cell killing (EC50 0.2 pM vs 3.4 pM). Both A-319 and A-329 were capable of mediating tumor cell lysis with EC50 at 0.03~4 pM. A-329 demonstrated a greater killing activity on Pfeiffer, a human diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) cell line with a low expression of CD19 antigen. In human PBMC engrafted NOG mouse xenograft model, a dose-dependent tumor growth inhibition was observed at 0.5~100 µg/kg in both A-319 and A-329. In monkey studies, when A-319 and A-329 was dosed at 3, 10, 30 µg/kg, twice or three times weekly via IV infusion for A-329 or A-319. Dose-dependent elimination of peripheral blood B cells were observed with both ITabTM. The CD19 bi-valent format of A-329 revealed more complete B cell killing in monkeys. No significant difference of cytokine induction or liver injuries were observed between A-319 and A-329.

These results demonstrated that both A-319 and A-329 may benefit patients with B cell malignancies with less dosing frequency and lower cytokine inductions especially, A-329 may have the potential to targeting the low CD19 expressing tumor stem cells.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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