Tubulysins are highly toxic tubulin-targeting agents with a narrow therapeutic window that are interesting for application in antibody–drug conjugates (ADC). For full control over drug–antibody ratio (DAR) and the effect thereof on pharmacokinetics and tumor targeting, a dual-labeling approach was developed, wherein the drug, tubulysin variants, and the antibody, the anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody (mAb) trastuzumab, are radiolabeled. 131I-radioiodination of two synthetic tubulysin A analogues, the less potent TUB-OH (IC50 > 100 nmol/L) and the potent TUB-OMOM (IC50, ∼1 nmol/L), and their direct covalent conjugation to 89Zr-trastuzumab were established. Radioiodination of tubulysins was 92% to 98% efficient and conversion to N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) esters more than 99%; esters were isolated in an overall yield of 68% ± 5% with radiochemical purity of more than 99.5%. Conjugation of 131I-tubulysin–NHS esters to 89Zr-trastuzumab was 45% to 55% efficient, resulting in ADCs with 96% to 98% radiochemical purity after size-exclusion chromatography. ADCs were evaluated for their tumor-targeting potential and antitumor effects in nude mice with tumors that were sensitive or resistant to trastuzumab, using ado-trastuzumab emtansine as a reference. ADCs appeared stable in vivo. An average DAR of 2 and 4 conferred pharmacokinetics and tumor-targeting behavior similar to parental trastuzumab. Efficacy studies using single-dose TUB-OMOM–trastuzumab (DAR 4) showed dose-dependent antitumor effects, including complete tumor eradications in trastuzumab-sensitive tumors in vivo. TUB-OMOM–trastuzumab (60 mg/kg) displayed efficacy similar to ado-trastuzumab emtansine (15 mg/kg) yet more effective than trastuzumab. Our findings illustrate the potential of synthetic tubulysins in ADCs for cancer treatment. Cancer Res; 74(20); 5700–10. ©2014 AACR.
Cohen, R., Vugts, D. J., Visser, G. W. M., Stigter-van Walsum, M., Bolijn, M., Spiga, M., Lazzari, P., Shankar, S. P., Sani, M., Zanda, M., & Van Dongen, G. A. M. S. (2014). Development of novel ADCs: conjugation of tubulysin analogs to trastuzumab monitored by dual radiolabeling. Cancer Research, 74(20), 5700-5710. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-1141