Background: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common acute leukemia in adults, and the treatment of AML, especially monocytic AML subtypes still has a poor outcome. T cell engagers (TCE) have been well used for the treatment of hematological malignancies, such as B cell leukemia and multiple myeloma. However, lack of ideal target antigens that only express on AML and leukemic stem cells (LSCs) but not on normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) hampers the development of TCE therapy for AML. Leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor B4 (LILRB4), an inhibitory receptor belonging to the LILR family, is highly and restrictedly expressed on monocytic M4/M5 AML subtypes and LSCs, but not on normal HSCs which makes it an ideal target for TCE. Here we report a novel LILRB4 x CD3 bispecific T cell engager based on AnTenGagerTM platform, ATG-102. It targets two distinct epitopes of LILRB4, inducing potent T cell-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (TDCC) with low CRS, resulting in a potent anti-tumor efficacy in vitro and in vivo.

Method: ATG-102 was constructed by introducing a high affinity anti-CD3 single chain fragment variable (scFv) to the hinge region of one of the heavy chains of a LILRB4 monoclonal antibody. A scFv targeting another epitope of LILRB4 was connected to the C terminal of the same heavy chain by GSSS linker, enabling a trivalent, dual epitope recognition of LILRB4. ATG-102 was evaluated in a series of preclinical studies for binding epitope and affinity, T cell activation, T cell dependent cytotoxicity (TDCC), and cytokine release. The in vivo antitumor efficacy of ATG-102 was evaluated in a humanized PBMCs and THP-1-luciferase cells engrafted NCG mice model.

Results: ATG-102 binds to LILRB4 positive cells with a single-digit nM affinity. It binds to two distinct and nonoverlapping epitopes of LILRB4. ATG-102 showed limited binding capability to CD3+ cells before LILRB4 crosslinking. However, with the presence of LILRB4 positive THP-1 cell, ATG-102 strongly activated primary T cells, upregulating early and later markers of T cell activation, CD69 and CD25, respectively. ATG-102 induced strong TDCC against LILRB4-high expressing THP-1 cells, and it induced more potent TDCC against LILRB4-low expressing MOLM-13 cells than a benchmark antibody. While compared with benchmark, ATG-102 induced significantly lower release of IL-6, which is one of the major cytokines involved in cytokine release syndrome (CRS). In addition, ATG-102 demonstrated more potent in vivo anti-tumor efficacy compared with the benchmark antibody at 1 mg/kg and 0.1 mg/kg dose level in PBMC-humanized NCG mice bearing THP-1-luciferase cells.

Conclusion: ATG-102 demonstrates trivalent, dual epitope recognition of LILRB4, conditionally redirects and activates T cells to recognize and kill monocytic AML cells. It demonstrates potent in vitro and in vivo anti-tumor efficacy with low risk of CRS.

Citation Format: Ao Sun, Mengshi Gao, Rong Guo, Huiling Liu, Zaoshun Hu, Enlin Zheng, Hui Yuwen, Peng Chen, Jay Mei, Bo Shan, Bing Hou. ATG-102, a novel LILRB4 x CD3 T cell engager, targeting two nonoverlapping epitopes of LILRB4, for the treatment of monocytic AML [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2024; Part 1 (Regular Abstracts); 2024 Apr 5-10; San Diego, CA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2024;84(6_Suppl):Abstract nr 2372.