B7-H4 has been implicated in cancers of the female reproductive system and investigated for its possible use as a biomarker for cancer, but there are no preclinical studies to demonstrate that B7-H4 is a molecular target for therapeutic intervention of cancer. We provide evidence that the prevalence and expression levels of B7-H4 are high in different subtypes of breast cancer and that only a few normal tissues express B7-H4 on the cell membrane. These profiles of low normal expression and upregulation in cancer provide an opportunity for the use of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), cytotoxic drugs chemically linked to antibodies, for the treatment of B7-H4 positive cancers. We have developed an ADC specific to B7-H4 that uses a linker drug consisting of a potent antimitotic, monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE), linked to engineered cysteines (THIOMAB) via a protease labile linker. We will refer to ADCs that use the THIOMAB format as TDCs to help distinguish the format from standard MC-vc-MMAE ADCs that are conjugated to the interchain disulfide bonds. Anti-B7-H4 (h1D11)-MC-vc-PAB-MMAE (h1D11 TDC) produced durable tumor regression in cell line and patient-derived xenograft models of triple-negative breast cancer. It also binds rat B7-H4 with similar affinity to human and allowed us to test for target dependent toxicity in rats. We found that our anti-B7-H4 TDC has toxicity findings similar to untargeted TDC. Our results validate B7-H4 as an ADC target for breast cancer and support the possible use of this TDC in the treatment of B7-H4+ breast cancer.
- antibody drug conjugate
- breast cancer
- monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE)
- preclinical validation