Background: Claudin18.2 (CLDN18.2), a tight junction protein normally expressed only on gastric mucosa, is overexpressed in gastric, pancreatic, esophageal, ovarian, lung and other solid tumors. Unlike in normal tissue, CLDN18.2 is exposed on epithelial surfaces in malignancy. There are no approved targeted therapies for CLDN18.2-expressing cancers. An antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) composed of a monoclonal antibody (mAb) targeting CLDN18.2 with a monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE) payload site-specifically conjugated via a cleavable linker at a drug-antibody ratio (DAR) of 2, EO-3021/SYSA1801, was developed to target CLDN18.2-expressing cancer cells, minimize toxicities and maximize therapeutic index.

Methods: HEK293-CLDN18.2 cells were used to evaluate CLDN18.2-dependent EO-3021 endocytosis, MMAE payload release, inhibition of proliferation and antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). Cell cycle distribution and caspase-3/7 activity were measured 24 hours after treating BxPC3-CLDN18.2 pancreatic cells with EO-3021 or the unconjugated antibody, EO-3021 mAb. Inhibition of proliferation by EO-3021 was measured on cell lines ectopically expressing medium to high CLDN18.2 and on cell lines with endogenous low to medium CLDN18.2 expression. Xenograft studies evaluating tumor growth inhibition by EO-3021, EO3021 mAb, and cisplatin or gemcitabine were done in gastric (NUGC4; NUGC4-CLDN18.2), pancreatic (Patu8988S; BxPC3-CLDN18.2), and lung (NCI-H460) cancer models.

Results: EO-3021 binding to cancer cells, endocytosis, MMAE release, and inhibition of proliferation were dependent on CLDN18.2 expression. EO-3021 (EC50: 172 ng/ml) and EO-3021 mAb (EC50: 130 ng/ml) demonstrated similar levels of ADCC. EO-3021 but not EO-3021 mAb promoted G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis and exhibited potent activity across cell lines with low, medium, and high CLDN18.2 expression (IC50: 7-456 ng/mL). EO-3021 induced tumor regressions with a single dose across low, medium, and high CLDN18.2-expressing in vivo models derived from pancreatic (2-10 mg/kg), gastric (0.5-10 mg/kg), and lung cancers (4 mg/kg), respectively. In contrast, standard of care (SOC) chemotherapies and EO-3021 mAb did not induce tumor regressions across in vivo models.

Conclusions: EO-3021 demonstrated profound in vivo antitumor activity and outperformed SOC in gastric, pancreatic, and lung cancer models. Results from in vitro and in vivo studies highlight the promising therapeutic potential of EO-3021/SYSA1801 for patients with CLDN18.2-expressing cancers. A Phase 1 study is ongoing to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and preliminary anti-tumor activity of SYSA1801 in patients with CLDN18.2 positive advanced solid tumors (NCT05009966).

Citation Format: Mo Dan, Xiwu Hui, Yancui Wang, Can Yuan, Thomas O'Hare, Valerie Malyvanh Jansen, Shawn M. Leland, Yang Zhang, David Dornan, Xiaoyan Wang. Therapeutic potential of EO-3021/SYSA1801, a Claudin18.2 antibody-drug conjugate, for the treatment of CLDN18.2-expressing cancers [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2023; Part 1 (Regular and Invited Abstracts); 2023 Apr 14-19; Orlando, FL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2023;83(7_Suppl):Abstract nr 6300.