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Winterberg, Dorothee; Lenk, Lennart; Osswald, Maren; Vogiatzi, Fotini; Gehlert, Carina Lynn; Frielitz, Fabian-Simon; Klausz, Katja; Roesner, Thies; Valerius, Thomas; Trauzold, Anna; Peipp, Matthias; Kellner, Christian and Schewe, Denis Martin (2021): Engineering of CD19 Antibodies: A CD19-TRAIL Fusion Construct Specifically Induces Apoptosis in B-Cell Precursor Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (BCP-ALL) Cells In Vivo. In: Journal of Clinical Medicine, Vol. 10, No. 12, 2634

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B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL) is the most frequent malignancy in children and also occurs in adulthood. Despite high cure rates, BCP-ALL chemotherapy can be highly toxic. This type of toxicity can most likely be reduced by antibody-based immunotherapy targeting the CD19 antigen which is commonly expressed on BCP-ALL cells. In this study, we generated a novel Fc-engineered CD19-targeting IgG1 antibody fused to a single chain tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) domain (CD19-TRAIL). As TRAIL induces apoptosis in tumor cells but not in healthy cells, we hypothesized that CD19-TRAIL would show efficient killing of BCP-ALL cells. CD19-TRAIL showed selective binding capacity and pronounced apoptosis induction in CD19-positive (CD19(+)) BCP-ALL cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, CD19-TRAIL significantly prolonged survival of mice transplanted with BCP-ALL patient-derived xenograft (PDX) cells of different cytogenetic backgrounds. Moreover, simultaneous treatment with CD19-TRAIL and Venetoclax (VTX), an inhibitor of the anti-apoptotic protein BCL-2, promoted synergistic apoptosis induction in CD19(+) BCP-ALL cells in vitro and prolonged survival of NSG-mice bearing the BCP-ALL cell line REH. Therefore, IgG1-based CD19-TRAIL fusion proteins represent a new potential immunotherapeutic agent against BCP-ALL.

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