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Cancer Res. 2010 Mar 15;70(6):2528-37. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3546. Epub 2010 Mar 2.

Antibody-maytansinoid conjugates designed to bypass multidrug resistance.

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ImmunoGen, Inc, Waltham, Massachusetts 02451, USA.


Conjugation of cytotoxic compounds to antibodies that bind to cancer-specific antigens makes these drugs selective in killing cancer cells. However, many of the compounds used in such antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) are substrates for the multidrug transporter MDR1. To evade the MDR1-mediated resistance, we conjugated the highly cytotoxic maytansinoid DM1 to antibodies via the maleimidyl-based hydrophilic linker PEG(4)Mal. Following uptake into target cells, conjugates made with the PEG(4)Mal linker were processed to a cytotoxic metabolite that was retained by MDR1-expressing cells better than a metabolite of similar conjugates prepared with the nonpolar linker N-succinimidyl-4-(maleimidomethyl)cyclohexane-1-carboxylate (SMCC). In accord, PEG(4)Mal-linked conjugates were more potent in killing MDR1-expressing cells in culture. In addition, PEG(4)Mal-linked conjugates were markedly more effective in eradicating MDR1-expressing human xenograft tumors than SMCC-linked conjugates while being tolerated similarly, thus showing an improved therapeutic index. This study points the way to the development of ADCs that bypass multidrug resistance.

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