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The Future Development of ADC For Cancer
Antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs), which combine the specificity of monoclonal
antibodies with the potency of highly cytotoxic drugs to potentially reduce the severity of
side effects by prioritizing their payloads to target tumor sites, are known as the "magic
bullets" of cancer treatment.
ADCs are complexes that bind small cytotoxic drugs to monoclonal antibodies via a
reasonably constructed linker to selectively deliver effective cytotoxic drugs to
tumors. ADC has come a long way over the past decade.
ADC has established a strong position in cancer pharmacopoeia. Clinicaltrials.gov
lists more than 1,500 clinical studies of ADCs, and more and more drugs are entering
clinicaltrials (Figure 1). It can be expected that the marketing approvals granted to ADCs
will diversify significantly, as will their indications for various diseases.
Figure 1 Number of new ADCs entering clinical trials between 2012 and 2022.
Over the past few years, the number of new ADCs entering clinical evaluation has increased rapidly.
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Since 2021, the proportion of ADCs containing topoisomerase-1 inhibitors has increased.
An increasing proportion of undeclared payloads (48% in 2022).
Almost half of the ADCs currently approved are for hematological malignancies. The
difficulty in developing ADCs in solid tumors may be due to specific characteristics,
including poor diffusion, inherent resistance to cytotoxic drugs, and reduced mitotic scores.
Better tumor permeability due to the use of a smaller form or priority intratumoral
activation using probody may enhance ADC activity in solid tumor indications. Several
promising targets are currently being evaluated clinically for solid tumors (such as ROR1,
HER3, CEACAM5, MET, and NaPi2b), and a large number of tumor-associated antigens
are currently being evaluated as potential targets for ADC-mediated drug delivery.
Future development of ADCs will include more novel target antigens, payloads with
new mechanisms of action, new linker conjugation techniques that can provide
better therapeutic indicators, and new forms of antibodies and vectors.
New Targets For ADCs
Regulatory agencies are expected to soon review several targeted ADCs that differ from
approved antigens, expanding the range of cancer indications available for
antibody-directed therapy. These promising targets include ROR1, HER3, CEACAM5,
MET, and NaPi2b.
ROR1, an orphan receptor that regulates axon growth in the central nervous system, is
expressed at high levels during early embryonic development and at low levels in adult
tissues. Many studies have shown that ROR1 is highly expressed in malignant tumor cells,
and it was originally identified as a tumor embryo gene in hematological malignancies. In
addition to hematological malignancies, abnormal expression of ROR1 has also been
found as biomarkers and therapeutic targets in a variety of solid tumors. NBE-002, an
anthracycline-antibody-drug conjugate targeting ROR1, is currently being evaluated in a
Phase I/II study in patients with advanced solid tumors (NCT04441099).
HER3 is overexpressed in several cancer types and is thought to predict poor prognosis.
Despite the lack of significant kinase activity, HER3 performs its function through HER3
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homologous dimerization or HER2/HER3 heterodimerization, thereby activating
downstream signaling pathways to promote cell survival and proliferation. Importantly,
HER3 signaling has been shown to be associated with resistance mechanisms in
anti-EGFR /HER2 therapies and is emerging as a promising therapeutic target for
EGFR-mutated NSCLC. Patritumab deruxtecan (U3-1402) is currently the only ADC in
clinical research. Currently, a Phase I/II study (NCT02980341) for HER3-positive
metastatic breast cancer is ongoing.
CEACAM5 is a cell surface adhesion molecule that has been used as a diagnostic marker
and tumor target. Several ADCs targeting CEACAM5 are currently in clinical trials,
including tusamitamab raftansine/SAR408701 for patients with non-small cell lung cancer
(NCT05245071) and breast and pancreatic cancer (NCT04659603). And M9140
(NCT05464030) for patients with advanced colorectal cancer. In addition,
labetuzumab-govitecan (IMMU-130) has shown good antitumor activity in preclinical
models and is intended for use in severely pretreated patients with metastatic colorectal
cancer.
Mesenchymal–epithelial transition (MET) protein is a receptor tyrosine kinase that
belongs to a unique subfamily of RTKs. MET is a tumorigenic determinant that regulates
the onset, progression and malignancy of epithelial carcinoma and is overexpressed in
several solid tumor types. Several ADCs targeting MET are currently in clinical trials,
including telisotuzumab vedotin (NCT03539536), HTI-1066 (NCT03398720), SHR-A1403
(NCT03856541), BYON3521 (NCT05323045), RC108 (NCT04617314), and TR1801
(NCT038) 59,752).
NaPi2b, a pH-sensitive sodium-dependent phosphate transporter, is overexpressed in
various tumor types, especially ovarian cancer. Upifitamab rilsodotin, an ADC targeting
NaPi2b, is currently in a phase 3 clinical trial (NCT05329545) for the treatment of ovarian
cancer.
New Mechanism of Action For ADC
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The initial mode of ADC is based on the intracellular release of cytotoxic payloads,
thereby killing tumor cells. Now, based on the molecular characteristics of ADCs, many
new mechanisms of action have been discovered and utilized to further expand the
therapeutic potential of ADCs.
Trigger Immunogenic Cell Death
An increasing number of studies have addressed the immunostimulatory properties of
ADCs. In addition to the conjugation of immunostimulatory agents themselves, such as
immunostimulatory antibody-drug conjugates (iADCs), ADCs can also induce
immunogenic cell death (ICD), thereby promoting anti-tumor immune responses. ICD is a
process of adaptive immune response caused by dead cells that can be induced by
certain types of cytotoxic chemotherapy or targeted drugs.
ICD induction is the basis for ADC therapy in combination with immune checkpoint
inhibitors, especially in immune-infiltrating-rich cancer types such as Hodgkin
lymphoma. ADC payloads may vary in their ability to induce ICD, and more studies will
help define their potential as immune activators.
Targeting Extracellular Antigens
The bystander effect of ADCs and the ability of the payload to spread within the tumor is
an underappreciated part of many of the mechanisms by which ADCs target solid tumors,
depending on the physicochemical properties and potency of the payload. On the other
hand, people are also beginning to focus on non-internalizing antibodies that target
extracellular components of the tumor microenvironment. For example, a PNU
antibody-drug conjugate targeting the C splice domain of tenascin induced complete
tumor regression in preclinical models. Similarly, galectin-3-binding proteins secreted by
tumor cells have also been explored as extracellular ADC targets. However, this
innovative mechanism also faces specific difficulties, including the relative expression of
target antigens in normal and tumor tissues, sufficient release of the payload in the
environment, and effective penetration of the payload in tumor cells.
Modulation of The Immunosuppressive Tumor Microenvironment
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A third strategy, in addition to targeting tumor cells themselves and extracellular antigens,
is to target immune cells. It has been shown that anti-CD45 ADCs can successfully
perform bone marrow clearance in mice undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell
transplantation, thereby avoiding whole-body irradiation or exposure to powerful alkylating
agents. A myeloablative CD117 amarin ADC was recently reported in a phase I/II study
and was well tolerated. As our understanding of the role of immunosuppressor cells in the
tumor microenvironment increases, ADCs may be developed to clear specific immune cell
subpopulations, such as regulatory T cells, type 2 macrophages, or myeloid derived
suppressor cells.
New Forms For ADC
Currently, some new ADC forms are emerging, such as conditionally activated,
dual-loaded or bispecific ADCs, etc., with the aim of enhancing tumor specificity and
reducing toxicity to healthy tissues. Conditionally activated ADCs allow the design of
antibodies as masked, proteolytically cleavable prodrugs designed to reduce off-tumor
on-target toxicity by exploiting high protease activity in the tumor microenvironment.
CX-2009 and CX-2029 are conditionally activated ADCs containing an MMAE payload,
one targeting DC166 and the other targeting CD71. CX-2029, developed by CytomX in
collaboration with AbbVie, is currently being evaluated as a single agent in a multi-cohort
Phase I/II dose-expansion study (NCT03543813), and CX-2009 is being evaluated in
patients with solid tumors (NCT03149549).
Conjugation of payloads on bispecific antibodies to generate ADCs with improved
specificity and/or internalization properties is a new field of research that promises to
overcome existing limitations such as endocytosis, toxicity, and resistance to ADCs.
Currently, several bispecific ADCs have entered clinical trials, such as
M1231(NCT04695847), ZW-49 (NCT03821233), REGN5093-M114 (NCT04982224), and
BL-B01D1 (NCT05262491). These bispecific ADCs are multi-targeted against TAA, such
as HER2, HER3, EGFR, MUC1, and MET. In addition, effective absorption of therapeutic
agents requires ease of internalization and lysosomal translocation. Many transmembrane
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proteins, including prolactin receptors (PRLR), cytokine receptors, and CD63, can be
used and exploited as targets for high-load internalization into tumor cells.
Dual-loaded ADC can flexibly adjust its drug-antibody ratio (DAR) through different
construction methods. The physicochemical properties, efficacy and toxicity
characteristics of ADCs can be fine-tuned according to disease types and therapeutic
purposes, and the advantages of dual-drug delivery of ADCs can be fully utilized to
improve ADC activity. At present, the construction methods of dual-load ADC have
become mature: one is to use two reaction sites to build step by step. The other is to use a
single reaction site to introduce branch linkers and then chemically assemble cytotoxic
drugs by clicking. However, there is still a long way to go in the development of its
pharmacokinetics.
Conclusion
Over the past decade, ADCs have been improved through the selection of better cytotoxic
drugs, bioconjugation methods, better targeting of antigens, and optimized antibody
engineering. However, it still has some limitations and the emergence of resistance
mechanisms.
Current limitations of ADCs include limited solid tumor permeability and toxicity, their
higher cost and non-gastrointestinal administration. In addition, ADCs are less likely to be
administered subcutaneously, whereas more and more naked antibodies are marketed
via subcutaneously administered formulations. To overcome these limitations, novel
antibody forms, novel delivery systems, non-internalizing antigen targets, novel cytotoxic
drugs, and site-specific bioconjugation methods have been investigated to promote ADC
development.
While many innovations have yet to be validated in clinical protocols, research in this area
has provided us with many encouraging results. It is believed that ADC will have a more
brilliant prospect in the next ten years. Currently, ADCs have established a robust position
among anti-cancer drugs, and even though the development of these drugs is more
complicated than that of naked antibodies. The number of ADCs approved is expected to
Biopharma PEG https://www.biochempeg.com
increase significantly in the coming years to meet the growing unmet medical need for
both common and rare diseases.
Biopharma PEG, a leading PEG derivatives supplier, provides the full range of PEG
derivative development services and the most comprehensive media for conjugation
research. ADC linkers with molecular weights, branching, and functional groups not listed
in our online catalog may be available by custom synthesis.
References:
[1]. Antibody–Drug Conjugates: The Last Decade. Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 245
[2]. Antibody–drug conjugates come of age in oncology. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2023 Jun 12.
Related articles:
[1]. New Oncology Trends: ADCs, Bispecific Antibodies & CAR-T Cell
[2]. Antibody–Drug Conjugate Payloads: MMAE & MMAF
[3]. Bispecific Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs): Emerging Trends
[4]. The Bystander Effect of ADCs
[5]. The History Of ADC Drugs Development

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The Future Development of ADC For Cancer.pdf

  • 1. Biopharma PEG https://www.biochempeg.com The Future Development of ADC For Cancer Antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs), which combine the specificity of monoclonal antibodies with the potency of highly cytotoxic drugs to potentially reduce the severity of side effects by prioritizing their payloads to target tumor sites, are known as the "magic bullets" of cancer treatment. ADCs are complexes that bind small cytotoxic drugs to monoclonal antibodies via a reasonably constructed linker to selectively deliver effective cytotoxic drugs to tumors. ADC has come a long way over the past decade. ADC has established a strong position in cancer pharmacopoeia. Clinicaltrials.gov lists more than 1,500 clinical studies of ADCs, and more and more drugs are entering clinicaltrials (Figure 1). It can be expected that the marketing approvals granted to ADCs will diversify significantly, as will their indications for various diseases. Figure 1 Number of new ADCs entering clinical trials between 2012 and 2022. Over the past few years, the number of new ADCs entering clinical evaluation has increased rapidly.
  • 2. Biopharma PEG https://www.biochempeg.com Since 2021, the proportion of ADCs containing topoisomerase-1 inhibitors has increased. An increasing proportion of undeclared payloads (48% in 2022). Almost half of the ADCs currently approved are for hematological malignancies. The difficulty in developing ADCs in solid tumors may be due to specific characteristics, including poor diffusion, inherent resistance to cytotoxic drugs, and reduced mitotic scores. Better tumor permeability due to the use of a smaller form or priority intratumoral activation using probody may enhance ADC activity in solid tumor indications. Several promising targets are currently being evaluated clinically for solid tumors (such as ROR1, HER3, CEACAM5, MET, and NaPi2b), and a large number of tumor-associated antigens are currently being evaluated as potential targets for ADC-mediated drug delivery. Future development of ADCs will include more novel target antigens, payloads with new mechanisms of action, new linker conjugation techniques that can provide better therapeutic indicators, and new forms of antibodies and vectors. New Targets For ADCs Regulatory agencies are expected to soon review several targeted ADCs that differ from approved antigens, expanding the range of cancer indications available for antibody-directed therapy. These promising targets include ROR1, HER3, CEACAM5, MET, and NaPi2b. ROR1, an orphan receptor that regulates axon growth in the central nervous system, is expressed at high levels during early embryonic development and at low levels in adult tissues. Many studies have shown that ROR1 is highly expressed in malignant tumor cells, and it was originally identified as a tumor embryo gene in hematological malignancies. In addition to hematological malignancies, abnormal expression of ROR1 has also been found as biomarkers and therapeutic targets in a variety of solid tumors. NBE-002, an anthracycline-antibody-drug conjugate targeting ROR1, is currently being evaluated in a Phase I/II study in patients with advanced solid tumors (NCT04441099). HER3 is overexpressed in several cancer types and is thought to predict poor prognosis. Despite the lack of significant kinase activity, HER3 performs its function through HER3
  • 3. Biopharma PEG https://www.biochempeg.com homologous dimerization or HER2/HER3 heterodimerization, thereby activating downstream signaling pathways to promote cell survival and proliferation. Importantly, HER3 signaling has been shown to be associated with resistance mechanisms in anti-EGFR /HER2 therapies and is emerging as a promising therapeutic target for EGFR-mutated NSCLC. Patritumab deruxtecan (U3-1402) is currently the only ADC in clinical research. Currently, a Phase I/II study (NCT02980341) for HER3-positive metastatic breast cancer is ongoing. CEACAM5 is a cell surface adhesion molecule that has been used as a diagnostic marker and tumor target. Several ADCs targeting CEACAM5 are currently in clinical trials, including tusamitamab raftansine/SAR408701 for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NCT05245071) and breast and pancreatic cancer (NCT04659603). And M9140 (NCT05464030) for patients with advanced colorectal cancer. In addition, labetuzumab-govitecan (IMMU-130) has shown good antitumor activity in preclinical models and is intended for use in severely pretreated patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Mesenchymal–epithelial transition (MET) protein is a receptor tyrosine kinase that belongs to a unique subfamily of RTKs. MET is a tumorigenic determinant that regulates the onset, progression and malignancy of epithelial carcinoma and is overexpressed in several solid tumor types. Several ADCs targeting MET are currently in clinical trials, including telisotuzumab vedotin (NCT03539536), HTI-1066 (NCT03398720), SHR-A1403 (NCT03856541), BYON3521 (NCT05323045), RC108 (NCT04617314), and TR1801 (NCT038) 59,752). NaPi2b, a pH-sensitive sodium-dependent phosphate transporter, is overexpressed in various tumor types, especially ovarian cancer. Upifitamab rilsodotin, an ADC targeting NaPi2b, is currently in a phase 3 clinical trial (NCT05329545) for the treatment of ovarian cancer. New Mechanism of Action For ADC
  • 4. Biopharma PEG https://www.biochempeg.com The initial mode of ADC is based on the intracellular release of cytotoxic payloads, thereby killing tumor cells. Now, based on the molecular characteristics of ADCs, many new mechanisms of action have been discovered and utilized to further expand the therapeutic potential of ADCs. Trigger Immunogenic Cell Death An increasing number of studies have addressed the immunostimulatory properties of ADCs. In addition to the conjugation of immunostimulatory agents themselves, such as immunostimulatory antibody-drug conjugates (iADCs), ADCs can also induce immunogenic cell death (ICD), thereby promoting anti-tumor immune responses. ICD is a process of adaptive immune response caused by dead cells that can be induced by certain types of cytotoxic chemotherapy or targeted drugs. ICD induction is the basis for ADC therapy in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors, especially in immune-infiltrating-rich cancer types such as Hodgkin lymphoma. ADC payloads may vary in their ability to induce ICD, and more studies will help define their potential as immune activators. Targeting Extracellular Antigens The bystander effect of ADCs and the ability of the payload to spread within the tumor is an underappreciated part of many of the mechanisms by which ADCs target solid tumors, depending on the physicochemical properties and potency of the payload. On the other hand, people are also beginning to focus on non-internalizing antibodies that target extracellular components of the tumor microenvironment. For example, a PNU antibody-drug conjugate targeting the C splice domain of tenascin induced complete tumor regression in preclinical models. Similarly, galectin-3-binding proteins secreted by tumor cells have also been explored as extracellular ADC targets. However, this innovative mechanism also faces specific difficulties, including the relative expression of target antigens in normal and tumor tissues, sufficient release of the payload in the environment, and effective penetration of the payload in tumor cells. Modulation of The Immunosuppressive Tumor Microenvironment
  • 5. Biopharma PEG https://www.biochempeg.com A third strategy, in addition to targeting tumor cells themselves and extracellular antigens, is to target immune cells. It has been shown that anti-CD45 ADCs can successfully perform bone marrow clearance in mice undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, thereby avoiding whole-body irradiation or exposure to powerful alkylating agents. A myeloablative CD117 amarin ADC was recently reported in a phase I/II study and was well tolerated. As our understanding of the role of immunosuppressor cells in the tumor microenvironment increases, ADCs may be developed to clear specific immune cell subpopulations, such as regulatory T cells, type 2 macrophages, or myeloid derived suppressor cells. New Forms For ADC Currently, some new ADC forms are emerging, such as conditionally activated, dual-loaded or bispecific ADCs, etc., with the aim of enhancing tumor specificity and reducing toxicity to healthy tissues. Conditionally activated ADCs allow the design of antibodies as masked, proteolytically cleavable prodrugs designed to reduce off-tumor on-target toxicity by exploiting high protease activity in the tumor microenvironment. CX-2009 and CX-2029 are conditionally activated ADCs containing an MMAE payload, one targeting DC166 and the other targeting CD71. CX-2029, developed by CytomX in collaboration with AbbVie, is currently being evaluated as a single agent in a multi-cohort Phase I/II dose-expansion study (NCT03543813), and CX-2009 is being evaluated in patients with solid tumors (NCT03149549). Conjugation of payloads on bispecific antibodies to generate ADCs with improved specificity and/or internalization properties is a new field of research that promises to overcome existing limitations such as endocytosis, toxicity, and resistance to ADCs. Currently, several bispecific ADCs have entered clinical trials, such as M1231(NCT04695847), ZW-49 (NCT03821233), REGN5093-M114 (NCT04982224), and BL-B01D1 (NCT05262491). These bispecific ADCs are multi-targeted against TAA, such as HER2, HER3, EGFR, MUC1, and MET. In addition, effective absorption of therapeutic agents requires ease of internalization and lysosomal translocation. Many transmembrane
  • 6. Biopharma PEG https://www.biochempeg.com proteins, including prolactin receptors (PRLR), cytokine receptors, and CD63, can be used and exploited as targets for high-load internalization into tumor cells. Dual-loaded ADC can flexibly adjust its drug-antibody ratio (DAR) through different construction methods. The physicochemical properties, efficacy and toxicity characteristics of ADCs can be fine-tuned according to disease types and therapeutic purposes, and the advantages of dual-drug delivery of ADCs can be fully utilized to improve ADC activity. At present, the construction methods of dual-load ADC have become mature: one is to use two reaction sites to build step by step. The other is to use a single reaction site to introduce branch linkers and then chemically assemble cytotoxic drugs by clicking. However, there is still a long way to go in the development of its pharmacokinetics. Conclusion Over the past decade, ADCs have been improved through the selection of better cytotoxic drugs, bioconjugation methods, better targeting of antigens, and optimized antibody engineering. However, it still has some limitations and the emergence of resistance mechanisms. Current limitations of ADCs include limited solid tumor permeability and toxicity, their higher cost and non-gastrointestinal administration. In addition, ADCs are less likely to be administered subcutaneously, whereas more and more naked antibodies are marketed via subcutaneously administered formulations. To overcome these limitations, novel antibody forms, novel delivery systems, non-internalizing antigen targets, novel cytotoxic drugs, and site-specific bioconjugation methods have been investigated to promote ADC development. While many innovations have yet to be validated in clinical protocols, research in this area has provided us with many encouraging results. It is believed that ADC will have a more brilliant prospect in the next ten years. Currently, ADCs have established a robust position among anti-cancer drugs, and even though the development of these drugs is more complicated than that of naked antibodies. The number of ADCs approved is expected to
  • 7. Biopharma PEG https://www.biochempeg.com increase significantly in the coming years to meet the growing unmet medical need for both common and rare diseases. Biopharma PEG, a leading PEG derivatives supplier, provides the full range of PEG derivative development services and the most comprehensive media for conjugation research. ADC linkers with molecular weights, branching, and functional groups not listed in our online catalog may be available by custom synthesis. References: [1]. Antibody–Drug Conjugates: The Last Decade. Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 245 [2]. Antibody–drug conjugates come of age in oncology. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2023 Jun 12. Related articles: [1]. New Oncology Trends: ADCs, Bispecific Antibodies & CAR-T Cell [2]. Antibody–Drug Conjugate Payloads: MMAE & MMAF [3]. Bispecific Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs): Emerging Trends [4]. The Bystander Effect of ADCs [5]. The History Of ADC Drugs Development