Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research (Mar 2022)
DSP107 combines inhibition of CD47/SIRPα axis with activation of 4-1BB to trigger anticancer immunity
Abstract Background Treatment of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) patients with rituximab and the CHOP treatment regimen is associated with frequent intrinsic and acquired resistance. However, treatment with a CD47 monoclonal antibody in combination with rituximab yielded high objective response rates in patients with relapsed/refractory DLBCL in a phase I trial. Here, we report on a new bispecific and fully human fusion protein comprising the extracellular domains of SIRPα and 4-1BBL, termed DSP107, for the treatment of DLBCL. DSP107 blocks the CD47:SIRPα ‘don’t eat me’ signaling axis on phagocytes and promotes innate anticancer immunity. At the same time, CD47-specific binding of DSP107 enables activation of the costimulatory receptor 4-1BB on activated T cells, thereby, augmenting anticancer T cell immunity. Methods Using macrophages, polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs), and T cells of healthy donors and DLBCL patients, DSP107-mediated reactivation of immune cells against B cell lymphoma cell lines and primary patient-derived blasts was studied with phagocytosis assays, T cell activation and cytotoxicity assays. DSP107 anticancer activity was further evaluated in a DLBCL xenograft mouse model and safety was evaluated in cynomolgus monkey. Results Treatment with DSP107 alone or in combination with rituximab significantly increased macrophage- and PMN-mediated phagocytosis and trogocytosis, respectively, of DLBCL cell lines and primary patient-derived blasts. Further, prolonged treatment of in vitro macrophage/cancer cell co-cultures with DSP107 and rituximab decreased cancer cell number by up to 85%. DSP107 treatment activated 4-1BB-mediated costimulatory signaling by HT1080.4-1BB reporter cells, which was strictly dependent on the SIRPα-mediated binding of DSP107 to CD47. In mixed cultures with CD47-expressing cancer cells, DSP107 augmented T cell cytotoxicity in vitro in an effector-to-target ratio-dependent manner. In mice with established SUDHL6 xenografts, the treatment with human PBMCs and DSP107 strongly reduced tumor size compared to treatment with PBMCs alone and increased the number of tumor-infiltrated T cells. Finally, DSP107 had an excellent safety profile in cynomolgus monkeys. Conclusions DSP107 effectively (re)activated innate and adaptive anticancer immune responses and may be of therapeutic use alone and in combination with rituximab for the treatment of DLBCL patients.