Background: Advanced melanoma is characterized by a pronounced resistance to therapy leading to a limited patient survival of similar to 6 - 9 months. Here, we report on a novel bifunctional therapeutic fusion protein, designated anti-MCSP: TRAIL, that is comprised of a melanoma-associated chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (MCSP)-specific antibody fragment (scFv) fused to soluble human TRAIL. MCSP is a well-established target for melanoma immunotherapy and has recently been shown to provide important tumorigenic signals to melanoma cells. TRAIL is a highly promising tumoricidal cytokine with no or minimal toxicity towards normal cells. Anti-MCSP: TRAIL was designed to 1. selectively accrete at the cell surface of MCSP-positive melanoma cells and inhibit MCSP tumorigenic signaling and 2. activate apoptotic TRAIL-signaling.
Results: Treatment of a panel of MCSP-positive melanoma cell lines with anti-MCSP: TRAIL induced TRAIL-mediated apoptotic cell death within 16 h. Of note, treatment with anti-MCSP: sTRAIL was also characterized by a rapid dephosphorylation of key proteins, such as FAK, implicated in MCSP-mediated malignant behavior. Importantly, anti-MCSP: TRAIL treatment already inhibited anchorage-independent growth by 50% at low picomolar concentrations, whereas > 100 fold higher concentrations of non-targeted TRAIL failed to reduce colony formation. Daily i.v. treatment with a low dose of anti-MCSP: TRAIL (0.14 mg/kg) resulted in a significant growth retardation of established A375 M xenografts. Anti-MCSP: TRAIL activity was further synergized by co-treatment with rimcazole, a s-ligand currently in clinical trials for the treatment of various cancers.
Conclusions: Anti-MCSP: TRAIL has promising pre-clinical anti-melanoma activity that appears to result from combined inhibition of tumorigenic MCSP-signaling and concordant activation of TRAIL-apoptotic signaling. Anti-MCSP: TRAIL alone, or in combination with rimcazole, may be of potential value for the treatment of malignant melanoma.
- STRAIL FUSION PROTEIN
- ANTIGEN HMW-MAA
- APOPTOSIS INDUCTION
- MEDIATED APOPTOSIS