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Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Sep 15;21(18):4165-73. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-15-0695. Epub 2015 May 26.

Anti-EFNA4 Calicheamicin Conjugates Effectively Target Triple-Negative Breast and Ovarian Tumor-Initiating Cells to Result in Sustained Tumor Regressions.

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Pfizer, Inc., Pearl River, New York.
Stemcentrx, Inc., South San Francisco, California.
Pfizer, Inc., Pearl River, New York.
Stemcentrx, Inc., South San Francisco, California.



Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and ovarian cancer each comprise heterogeneous tumors, for which current therapies have little clinical benefit. Novel therapies that target and eradicate tumor-initiating cells (TIC) are needed to significantly improve survival.


A panel of well-annotated patient-derived xenografts (PDX) was established, and surface markers that enriched for TIC in specific tumor subtypes were empirically determined. The TICs were queried for overexpressed antigens, one of which was selected to be the target of an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC). The efficacy of the ADC was evaluated in 15 PDX models to generate hypotheses for patient stratification.


We herein identified E-cadherin (CD324) as a surface antigen able to reproducibly enrich for TIC in well-annotated, low-passage TNBC and ovarian cancer PDXs. Gene expression analysis of TIC led to the identification of Ephrin-A4 (EFNA4) as a prospective therapeutic target. An ADC comprising a humanized anti-EFNA4 monoclonal antibody conjugated to the DNA-damaging agent calicheamicin achieved sustained tumor regressions in both TNBC and ovarian cancer PDX in vivo. Non-claudin low TNBC tumors exhibited higher expression and more robust responses than other breast cancer subtypes, suggesting a specific translational application for tumor subclassification.


These findings demonstrate the potential of PF-06647263 (anti-EFNA4-ADC) as a first-in-class compound designed to eradicate TIC. The use of well-annotated PDX for drug discovery enabled the identification of a novel TIC target, pharmacologic evaluation of the compound, and translational studies to inform clinical development.

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