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Blood. 2007 Oct 1;110(7):2569-77. Epub 2007 Apr 17.

Targeting CD37-positive lymphoid malignancies with a novel engineered small modular immunopharmaceutical.

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Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


CD37 is a lineage-specific B-cell antigen that to date has been neglected as an attractive therapeutic target. To exploit this, novel CD37-specific small modular immunopharmaceuticals (CD37-SMIP) that include variable regions linked to modified human IgG(1) hinge, CH(2), and CH(3) domains were designed. The lead CD37-SMIP molecule induces potent apoptosis in the presence of a cross-linker, and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity against B-cell leukemia/lymphoma cell lines and primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells superior to therapeutic antibodies used in these diseases. The CD37-SMIP-dependent ADCC function in vitro was mediated by natural killer (NK) cells but not naive or activated monocytes. Significant in vivo therapeutic efficacy was demonstrated in a SCID mouse xenograft leukemia/lymphoma model. Depletion of NK cells in this mouse model resulted in diminished efficacy further supported the in vivo importance of NK cells in SMIP therapy. These findings provide strong justification for CD37 as a therapeutic target and introduce small modular immunopharmaceuticals as a novel class of targeted therapies for B-cell malignancies.

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