Science Translational Medicine 11, 1-13 (2019)
Targeted antibody and cytokine cancer immunotherapies through collagen affinity


Ishihara J*, Ishihara A*, Sasaki K, Lee SS-Y, Williford J-M, Yasui M, Abe H, Potin L, Hosseinchi P, Fukunaga K, Raczy MM, Gray LT, Mansurov A, Katsumata K, Fukayama M, Kron SJ, Swartz MA, Hubbell JA




Cancer immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) has demonstrated clinical efficacy but is frequently accompanied with severe adverse events caused by excessive and systemic immune system activation. Here, we addressed this need by targeting both the CPI antibodies anti–cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 antibody (αCTLA4) + anti–programmed death ligand 1 antibody (αPD-L1) and the cytokine IL-2 to tumors via conjugation (for the antibodies) or recombinant fusion (for the cytokine) to a collagen-binding domain (CBD) derived from the blood protein von Willebrand factor (VWF) A3 domain, harnessing the exposure of tumor stroma collagen to blood components due to the leakiness of the tumor vasculature. We show that intravenously administered CBD protein accumulated mainly in tumors. CBD conjugation or fusion decreases the systemic toxicity of both αCTLA4 + αPD-L1 combination therapy and IL-2, for example, eliminating hepatotoxicity with the CPI molecules and ameliorating pulmonary edema with IL-2. Both CBD-CPI and CBD–IL-2 suppressed tumor growth compared to their unmodified forms in multiple murine cancer models, and both CBD-CPI and CBD–IL-2 increased tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells. In an orthotopic breast cancer model, combination treatment with CPI and IL-2 eradicated tumors in 9 of 13 animals with the CBD-modified drugs, whereas it did so in only 1 of 13 animals with the unmodified drugs. Thus, the A3 domain of VWF can be used to improve safety and efficacy of systemically administered tumor drugs with high translational promise.