Antibody–drug conjugates (ADC) represent a fast-growing drug class in oncology. However, ADCs are associated with resistance, and therapies able to overcome it are of utmost importance. Recently, enfortumab vedotin-ejfv (EV) was approved in nectin-4+ metastatic urothelial cancer. We previously described PVRL4/nectin-4 as a new therapeutic target in breast cancer and produced an efficient EV-like ADC comprising a human anti–nectin-4 mAb conjugated to monomethyl auristatin-E (MMAE) named N41mab-vcMMAE. To study the consequence of the long-term treatment with this ADC, we developed a preclinical breast cancer model in mice, and report a mechanism of resistance to N41mab-vcMMAE after 9-month treatment and a way to reverse it. RNA-sequencing pointed to an upregulation in resistant tumors of ABCB1 expression, encoding the multidrug resistance protein MDR-1/P-glycoprotein (P-gp), associated with focal gene amplification and high protein expression. Sensitivity to N41mab-vcMMAE of the resistant model was restored in vitro by P-gp pharmacologic inhibitors, like tariquidar. P-gp is expressed in a variety of normal tissues. By delivering the drug to the tumor more specifically than classical chemotherapy, we hypothesized that the combined use of ADC with P-gp inhibitors might reverse resistance in vivo without toxicity. Indeed, we showed that the tariquidar/N41mab-vcMMAE combination was well tolerated and induced a rapid regression of ADC-resistant tumors in mice. In contrast, the tariquidar/docetaxel combination was toxic and poorly efficient. These results show that ABC transporter inhibitors can be safely used with ADC to reverse ADC-induced resistance and open new opportunities in the fight against multidrug resistance.

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