The CD20 molecule is a non-glycosylated protein expressed mainly on the surface of B lymphocytes. In some pathogenic B cells, it shows an increased expression, thus becoming an attractive target for diagnosis and therapy. Rituximab is a chimeric antibody that specifically recognizes the human CD20 molecule. This antibody is indicated for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphomas and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. In this work, we describe the stable expression and biological evaluation of an anti-CD20 biosimilar antibody. While rituximab is produced in fed-batch culture of recombinant Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, our biosimilar antibody expression process consists of continuous culture of recombinant murine NS0 myeloma cells. The ability of the purified biosimilar antibody to recognize the CD20 molecule on human tumor cell lines, as well as on peripheral blood mononuclear cells from humans and primates, was demonstrated by flow cytometry. The biosimilar antibody induced complement-dependent cytotoxicity, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity and apoptosis on human cell lines with high expression of CD20. In addition, this antibody depleted CD20-positive B lymphocytes from peripheral blood in monkeys. These results indicate that the biological properties of the biosimilar antibody compare favorably with those of the innovator product, and that it should be evaluated in future clinical trials.
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