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Cancer Res. 2001 Jun 15;61(12):4750-5.

High affinity restricts the localization and tumor penetration of single-chain fv antibody molecules.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19111, USA.


Antitumor monoclonal antibodies must bind to tumor antigens with high affinity to achieve durable tumor retention. This has spurred efforts to generate high affinity antibodies for use in cancer therapy. However, it has been hypothesized that very high affinity interactions between antibodies and tumor antigens may impair efficient tumor penetration of the monoclonal antibodies and thus diminish effective in vivo targeting (K. Fujimori et al., J. Nucl. Med., 31: 1191-1198, 1990). Here we show that intrinsic affinity properties regulate the quantitative delivery of antitumor single-chain Fv (scFv) molecules to solid tumors and the penetration of scFv from the vasculature into tumor masses. In biodistribution studies examining a series of radioiodinated scFv mutants with affinities ranging from 10(-7)-10(-11) M, quantitative tumor retention did not significantly increase with enhancements in affinity beyond 10(-9) M. Similar distribution patterns were observed when the scFv were evaluated in the absence of renal clearance in anephric mice, indicating that the rapid renal clearance of the scFv was not responsible for these observations. IHC and IF evaluations of tumor sections after the i.v. administration of scFv affinity mutants revealed that the lowest affinity molecule exhibited diffuse tumor staining whereas the highest affinity scFv was primarily retained in the perivascular regions of the tumor. These results indicate that antibody-based molecules with extremely high affinity have impaired tumor penetration properties that must be considered in the design of antibody-based cancer therapies.

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