Rapid Assembly and Screening of Multivalent Immune Cell-Redirecting Therapies for Leukemia
Therapies that bind with immune cells and redirect their cytotoxic activity towards diseased cells represent a promising and versatile approach to immunotherapy with applications in cancer, lupus, and other diseases; traditional methods for discovering these therapies, however, are often time-intensive and lack the throughput of related target-based discovery approaches. Inspired by the observation that the cytokine, IL-12, can enhance antileukemic activity of the clinically approved T cell
... approved T cell redirecting therapy, blinatumomab, here we describe the structure and assembly of a chimeric immune cell-redirecting agent which redirects the lytic activity of primary human T cells towards leukemic B cells and simultaneously co-targets the delivery of T cell-stimulating IL-12. We further describe a novel method for the parallel assembly of compositionally diverse libraries of these bi-specific T cell engaging cytokines (BiTEokines) and their high-throughput phenotypic screening, requiring just days for hit identification and the analysis of structure-function relationships. Using this approach, we identified CD19 x CD3 x IL12 compounds that exhibit ex vivo lytic activity comparable to current FDA-approved therapies for leukemia and correlated drug treatment with specific cell-cell contact, cytokine delivery, and leukemia cell lysis. Given the modular nature of these multivalent compounds and their rapid assembly/screening, we anticipate facile extension of this therapeutic approach to a wide range of immune cells, diseased cells, and soluble protein combinations in the future.