Molecular cancer therapeutics

Enhanced Targeting of the EGFR Network with MM-151, an Oligoclonal Anti-EGFR Antibody Therapeutic.

PMID 25911688


Although EGFR is a validated therapeutic target across multiple cancer indications, the often modest clinical responses to current anti-EGFR agents suggest the need for improved therapeutics. Here, we demonstrate that signal amplification driven by high-affinity EGFR ligands limits the capacity of monoclonal anti-EGFR antibodies to block pathway signaling and cell proliferation and that these ligands are commonly coexpressed with low-affinity EGFR ligands in epithelial tumors. To develop an improved antibody therapeutic capable of overcoming high-affinity ligand-mediated signal amplification, we used a network biology approach comprised of signaling studies and computational modeling of receptor-antagonist interactions. Model simulations suggested that an oligoclonal antibody combination may overcome signal amplification within the EGFR:ERK pathway driven by all EGFR ligands. Based on this, we designed MM-151, a combination of three fully human IgG1 monoclonal antibodies that can simultaneously engage distinct, nonoverlapping epitopes on EGFR with subnanomolar affinities. In signaling studies, MM-151 antagonized high-affinity EGFR ligands more effectively than cetuximab, leading to an approximately 65-fold greater decrease in signal amplification to ERK. In cell viability studies, MM-151 demonstrated antiproliferative activity against high-affinity EGFR ligands, either singly or in combination, while cetuximab activity was largely abrogated under these conditions. We confirmed this finding both in vitro and in vivo in a cell line model of autocrine high-affinity ligand expression. Together, these preclinical studies provide rationale for the clinical study of MM-151 and suggest that high-affinity EGFR ligand expression may be a predictive response marker that distinguishes MM-151 from other anti-EGFR therapeutics.