Background. Stimulator of interferon genes, known as STING, is an intracellular sensor of nucleic acids and one of key regulators in activating the innate immune response. Employing synthetic STING agonists has been shown to promote immune-mediated antitumor response in preclinical animal models. Ryvu is developing small-molecule STING agonists suitable for systemic administration. Herein we present unpublished results from characterization of the new generation of our agonist series with significantly improved potency on human immune cells.

Methods. Binding to recombinant STING protein was examined using Fluorescence Thermal Shift and Fluorescence Polarisation and was confirmed by X-ray crystallography. Primary screen was performed in THP-1 Dual reporter cells and selectivity was confirmed in THP-1 reporter cells with knocked out STING or expressing varying STING variants. T cell viability and proliferation was assessed by flow cytometry using activated, human T cells exposed to STING agonists. STING pathway activation pattern in cells treated with Ryvu's molecules was confirmed using Western blot analysis. BALB/c mice were injected with compounds and the levels of cytokine release were measured in the plasma. Mice were inoculated with CT26 or EMT6 tumor cells and the compound was administered intravenously followed by the regular monitoring of tumor growth.

Results. New generation Ryvu STING agonists are strong binders of human STING protein. Ryvu's compounds show high cellular potency inducing cytokine production in human immune cells at low nM range. Moreover, high activity of developed agonists is maintained irrespective of the natural human STING variant as seen in THP-1 reporter cells as well as in human primary immune cells. High cellular potency of developed compounds also translates into efficacy observed in vivo, where systemic intravenous administration leads to significant tumor growth inhibition and complete tumor regressions in mouse syngeneic models.

Conclusion. Ryvu has developed a new generation of potent, direct and selective small-molecule STING agonists. The compounds are characterized by drug-like properties and high in vitro potency on par or outperforming known references. Ryvu agonists are suitable for systemic administration and allow to achieve excellent antitumor efficacy. Taken together, the promising results suggest that the developed series holds high potential for improving immunotherapy in cancer patients.

Citation Format: Maciej Krzysztof Rogacki, Stefan Chmielewski, Jolanta Mazurek, Magdalena Zawadzka, Katarzyna Wnuk-Lipińska, Kamil Kuś, Katarzyna Wójcik-Jaszczyńska, Aleksandra Poczkaj, Łukasz Dudek, Wojciech Schonemann, Urszula Głowniak-Kwitek, Marcin Leś, Marek Wronowski, Tushar Mahajan, Urszula Kulesza, Magdalena Zastawna, David Synak, Karol Zuchowicz, Karolina Gluza, Katarzyna Banaszak, Karolina Wiatrowska, Izabela Strojny, Mirosława Gładysz, Justyna Jabłońska, Ewelina Gabor-Worwa, Monika Dobrzańska, Raghuram Tangirala, Peter Littlewood, Krzysztof Brzózka. New generation of STING agonists: Development and characterization of a novel series of systemic immunomodulators with improved potency [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr 1280.