Measurement of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) is critical for understanding antibody Fc effector functions during monoclonal antibody development. Classic ADCC assays measure the short-term cytotoxicity of target cells, typically pre-loaded with radioactive or fluorescent dyes, after exposure to antibody bound primary PBMCs or NK cells. These assays are widely used in antibody discovery and characterization during early drug development. However, the reproducibility of these assays is not adequate and they have major issues on biosafety or weak assay sensitivity. Moreover, the use of primary effector cells makes them prone to donor variability, low-throughput and therefore not suitable for implementation in quality-control drug development. We previously developed an ADCC reporter bioassay using engineered ADCC effector cells and demonstrated its specificity and ability to measure ADCC mechanism of action. The assay is prequalified according to ICH guidelines; demonstrates precision, accuracy, linearity, and robustness; and is suitable for product release and stability studies in a quality-controlled environment. In order to enable bridging studies comparing primary PBMC-based ADCC assays and ADCC reporter bioassays, we report the development of an improved PBMC ADCC assay using ADCC-prequalified PBMCs and engineered HiBiT target cells for therapeutic monoclonal antibodies with Fc functions. When target cells expressing HaloTag-HiBiT are incubated with an antibody and PBMCs, the target cells are lysed and release HaloTag-HiBiT, which then bind to LgBiT in the detection reagent to form a functional Nano-luciferase to generate Bioluminescence signal. In addition, it can enable the quantitative measurement of antibody-mediated target cell lysis via specific HaloTag staining using a fluorescent HaloTag ligand by flow cytometry. We demonstrate that the new PBMC ADCC assay is simple, homogenous, highly sensitive, and gives a robust assay window, and is capable of measuring potency of rituximab, cetuximab or trastuzumab. Additionally, it shows antibody potency comparable with the ADCC reporter bioassay in ADCC bridging studies.

Citation Format: Pete Stecha, Denise Garvin, Julia Gilden, Jun Wang, Jamison Grailer, Jim Hartnett, Gopal B. Krishnan, Frank Fan, Mei Cong, Zhijie Jey Cheng. A homogenous PBMC ADCC bioassay enables bridging studies with ADCC reporter bioassays in immunotherapy monoclonal antibody development [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 506.