A novel anti-BCMA antibody drug conjugate (ADC) MEDI2228 preferentially binds to membrane-bound vs soluble BCMA (sBCMA) to effectively deliver the pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) payload tesirine to multiple myeloma (MM) cells (Leukemia. 2019;33: 766). In preclinical models, this ADC targets both MM cells in bulk and CD19+CD138- patient MM progenitor cells. We here study the potency of MEDI2228 in MM cells in the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment and examine molecular mechanisms whereby MEDI2228 overcomes drug resistance. First, MEDI2228, more effectively than its microtubule-binding monomethyl auristatin-F (MMAF) ADC homolog, inhibits proliferation (>1-2-log) and survival of all MM cell lines and MM cells from patients with multiple relapsed and refractory diseases, regardless of BCMA levels, p53 status, and the protection conferred by BM stromal cells and IL-6. Significantly, MM cells with lower BCMA expression and resistance to bortezomib or immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs, i.e., lenalidomide, pomalidomide) are more susceptible to MEDI2228 vs its MMAF ADC homolog. MEDI2228, but not its MMAF ADC homolog, activates critical DNA damage responses (DDR) via phosphorylation of ATM/ATR kinases, checkpoint kinases (CHK)1/2, and H2AX, associated with induction of multiple DDR pathway-associated genes. Low doses of MEDI2228 and bortezomib (btz) synergistically induce apoptosis of drug-sensitive and -resistant MM cells, at least in part, through modulation of RAD51, a DNA damage and repair protein. Importantly, MEDI2228 further triggers the ATM/ATR-CHK1/2 signaling cascade, associated with increased gH2AX, p21, and apoptosis molecules in MM1S-xenografted tumors in mice. In vivo, a single sub-optimal dose of 0.4 mg/kg MEDI2228 induces superior anti-MM activity than btz, indicating that MEDI2228 is significantly more effective and selective than btz as single agent therapy in vivo. Furthermore, combined treatments with MEDI2228 and btz result in potent tumor depletion and significantly prolonged host survival via increased nuclear gH2AX-expressing microfoci, DNA damage-induced growth arrest and cell death. Significant tumor necrosis is observed earlier in mice receiving both drugs than either agent alone. At 177d, 15% mice in the combination treatment group remain alive and without any tumor. Importantly, no weight loss is noted in all groups, indicating a favorable safety profile of MEDI2228, alone or with btz, in vivo. Moreover, DDR checkpoint inhibitors, i.e., AZD0156 (ATMi), AZD6738 (ATRi), AZD1775 (WEE1i), synergize with MEDI2228 to enhance MM cell cytotoxicity (combination index < 1). This study therefore further supports clinical development of MEDI2228 (NCT03489525) as an important next-generation immunotherapy to improve outcome of MM patients.


Kinneer:AstraZeneca: Employment. Munshi:Amgen: Consultancy; Abbvie: Consultancy; Oncopep: Consultancy; Takeda: Consultancy; Janssen: Consultancy; Adaptive: Consultancy; Celgene: Consultancy. Anderson:Celgene: Consultancy, Speakers Bureau; Amgen: Consultancy, Speakers Bureau; Janssen: Consultancy, Speakers Bureau; Takeda: Consultancy, Speakers Bureau; Bristol-Myers Squibb: Other: Scientific Founder; Oncopep: Other: Scientific Founder; Sanofi-Aventis: Other: Advisory Board.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.