Mesothelin (MSLN) is a cell surface glycoprotein widely expressed in a variety of cancers, with prevalence levels by IHC of 85% in ovarian, 75% in pancreatic and 45% in mesothelioma, and normal expression limited to the mesothelia, suggesting it could be an ideal target for antibody-drug conjugate therapy of these cancers. We have generated a high affinity (subnanomolar), humanized antibody to MSLN and conjugated it to auristatin anti-mitotic drugs (monomethylauristatin E and F, Seattle Genetics) via an uncleavable linker (anti-MSLN-mc-MMAF) or a cathepsin-cleavable valine-citrulline linker (anti-MSLN-mc-vc-PAB-MMAE/F) for comparison. The in vivo efficacy obtained in an ovarian transplant model was superior with the anti-MSLN-MMAE ADC. Anti-MSLN-MMAE was specifically internalized by MSLN-expressing cells in vitro, resulting in cell death compared to control ADCs. Pancreatic, ovarian and mesothelioma tumor cell lines endogenously expressing physiological levels of MSLN were identified and established as xenografts in mice. A single dose of anti-MSLN ADC was sufficient to inhibit or shrink tumor growth in models of each of the three indications in vivo, as well as inducing complete regressions in primary human pancreatic models, even those expressing low levels of MSLN typical of most human pancreatic tumors. Additionally, anti-MSLN-MMAE (at suboptimal doses) appeared to synergize with gemcitabine at clinically relevant doses in an HPAC xenograft model. Furthermore, anti-MSLN-MMAE was well tolerated in non-clinical toxicity studies (see accompanying abstract by Gupta et al.). Our data suggest that anti-MSLN-vc-MMAE is a promising clinical candidate for the treatment of several types of mesothelin-positive cancers.

Citation Format: Suzie J. Scales, Nidhi Gupta, Glenn Pacheco, Ron Firestein, Dorothy M. French, Josefa Chuh, Yin Zhang, Leanne Berry, Jenny Bostrom, Elizabeth Luis, Aimee Fourie O'Donohue, Katherine R. Kozak, Sarajane Ross, Mark S. Dennis, Jay Tibbitts, Susan D. Spencer. A clinical candidate anti-mesothelin-MMAE antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) for therapy of mesothelin-expressing cancers. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 105th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2014 Apr 5-9; San Diego, CA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2014;74(19 Suppl):Abstract nr 4494. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2014-4494