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Mol Cancer Ther. 2015 Jul;14(7):1650-60. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-15-0067. Epub 2015 May 1.

AGS67E, an Anti-CD37 Monomethyl Auristatin E Antibody-Drug Conjugate as a Potential Therapeutic for B/T-Cell Malignancies and AML: A New Role for CD37 in AML.

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Agensys Inc., an Affiliate of Astellas Pharma Inc., Santa Monica, California.
Agensys Inc., an Affiliate of Astellas Pharma Inc., Santa Monica, California.
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, and Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of California, San Diego, Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, California.


CD37 is a tetraspanin expressed on malignant B cells. Recently, CD37 has gained interest as a therapeutic target. We developed AGS67E, an antibody-drug conjugate that targets CD37 for the potential treatment of B/T-cell malignancies. It is a fully human monoclonal IgG2 antibody (AGS67C) conjugated, via a protease-cleavable linker, to the microtubule-disrupting agent monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE). AGS67E induces potent cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and cell-cycle alterations in many non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cell lines and patient-derived samples in vitro. It also shows potent antitumor activity in NHL and CLL xenografts, including Rituxan-refractory models. During profiling studies to confirm the reported expression of CD37 in normal tissues and B-cell malignancies, we made the novel discovery that the CD37 protein was expressed in T-cell lymphomas and in AML. AGS67E bound to >80% of NHL and T-cell lymphomas, 100% of CLL and 100% of AML patient-derived samples, including CD34(+)CD38(-) leukemic stem cells. It also induced cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and cell-cycle alterations in AML cell lines and antitumor efficacy in orthotopic AML xenografts. Taken together, this study shows not only that AGS67E may serve as a potential therapeutic for B/T-cell malignancies, but it also demonstrates, for the first time, that CD37 is well expressed and a potential drug target in AML.

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