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J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2013 Feb;139(2):315-25. doi: 10.1007/s00432-012-1332-x. Epub 2012 Oct 17.

Expression of TweakR in breast cancer and preclinical activity of enavatuzumab, a humanized anti-TweakR mAb.

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Discovery, GPRD, Abbott Biotherapeutics, 1500 Seaport Blvd, Redwood City, CA 94063, USA.



The receptor for the cytokine TWEAK (TweakR) is a cell surface member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily with diverse biological roles. TNFRSF family members are appealing therapeutic targets in oncology due to their aberrant expression and function in tumor cells. The goal of the current study was to examine the potential of TweakR as a therapeutic target in breast cancer.


Expression of TweakR in primary breast cancer tissues and metastases was characterized using immunohistochemistry. To determine the functional relevance of TweakR, breast cancer cell lines were treated in vitro and in vivo with enavatuzumab, a humanized mAb against TweakR.


Overexpression of TweakR was observed in infiltrating tumors compared to normal adjacent breast tissues, and strong staining of TweakR was observed in all subtypes of invasive ductal breast cancer. In addition, a positive correlation of TweakR and HER2 expression and co-localization were observed, irrespective of ER status. TweakR expression was also observed in bone metastasis samples from primary breast cancer but rarely in benign tumors. Enavatuzumab inhibited the in vitro growth of TweakR-expressing breast cancer cell lines, and this activity was augmented by cross-linking the mAb. In addition, enavatuzumab significantly inhibited the in vivo growth of multiple breast cancer xenograft models including a model of metastasis.


TweakR is highly expressed in all subtypes of invasive ductal breast cancer, and enavatuzumab administration exhibited a dose-dependent inhibition of primary tumor growth and lung metastasis and enhanced the antitumor activity of several chemotherapy agents currently used to treat breast cancer. These data provide the rationale to evaluate enavatuzumab as a potential therapy for the treatment of breast cancer.

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