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FEBS J. 2008 Oct;275(20):4967-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2008.06625.x. Epub 2008 Sep 15.

Differential binding of human immunoagents and Herceptin to the ErbB2 receptor.

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1
Dipartimento di Biologia Strutturale e Funzionale, Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy.

Abstract

Overexpression of the ErbB2 receptor is associated with the progression of breast cancer, and is a sign of a poor prognosis. Herceptin, a humanized antibody directed to the ErbB2 receptor, has been proven to be effective in the immunotherapy of breast cancer. However, it can result in cardiotoxicity, and a large fraction of breast cancer patients are resistant to Herceptin treatment. We have engineered three novel, fully human, anti-ErbB2 immunoagents: Erbicin, a human single-chain antibody fragment; ERB-hRNase, a human immunoRNase composed of Erbicin fused to a human RNase; ERB-hcAb, a human 'compact' antibody in which two Erbicin molecules are fused to the Fc fragment of a human IgG1. Both ERB-hRNase and ERB-hcAb strongly inhibit the growth of ErbB2-positive cells in vivo. The interactions of the Erbicin-derived immunoagents and Herceptin with the extracellular domain of ErbB2 (ErbB2-ECD) were investigated for the first time by three different methods. Erbicin-derived immunoagents bind soluble extracellular domain with a lower affinity than that measured for the native antigen on tumour cells. Herceptin, by contrast, shows a higher affinity for soluble ErbB2-ECD. Accordingly, ErbB2-ECD abolished the in vitro antitumour activity of Herceptin, with no effect on that of Erbicin-derived immunoagents. These results suggest that the fraction of immunoagent neutralized by free extracellular domain shed into the bloodstream is much higher for Herceptin than for Erbicin-derived immunoagents, which therefore may be used at lower therapeutic doses than those employed for Herceptin.

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