Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) remains a leading cause of cancer-related deaths, with a 5-year survival rate of only 15%. T cell engaging bispecific antibodies (TCBs) represent a class of biopharmaceuticals that redirect cytotoxic T cells towards tumor cells, thereby turning immunologically "cold" tumors "hot." The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is an attractive tumor-associated antigen (TAA) that is overexpressed in over 98% of CRC patients. In this study, we report the comparison of four different TCB formats employing the antibodies F4 (targeting human CEA) and 2C11 (targeting mouse CD3ε). These formats include both antibody fragment- and IgG-based constructs, with either one or two binding specificities of the respective antibodies. The 2+1 arrangement, using an anti-CEA single-chain diabody (scDbCEA) fused to an anti-CD3 single-chain variable fragment (scFvCD3), emerged as the most potent design, showing tumor killing at subnanomolar concentrations across three different CEA+ cell lines. The in vitro activity was three times greater in C57BL/6 mouse colon adenocarcinoma cells (MC38) expressing high levels of CEA compared to those expressing low levels, highlighting the impact of CEA antigen density in this assay. The optimal TCB candidate was tested in two different immunocompetent mouse models of colorectal cancer and showed tumor growth retardation. Ex vivo analysis of tumor infiltrates showed an increase in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells upon TCB treatment. This study suggests that bivalent tumor targeting, monovalent T cell targeting, and a short spatial separation are promising characteristics for CEA targeting TCBs.

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