Immune checkpoint therapies have shown tremendous promise in cancer therapy. However, tools to assess their target engagement, and hence ability to predict their efficacy, have been lacking. Here, we show that target engagement and tumor residence kinetics of antibody therapeutics targeting the programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) can be quantified non-invasively. In computational docking studies, we observed that PD-L1-targeted antibodies (atezolizumab, avelumab, durvalumab) and a high affinity PD-L1 binding peptide, WL12, have common interaction sites on PD-L1. Using the peptide radiotracer [64Cu]WL12 in vivo, we employed positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and biodistribution studies, in multiple xenograft models and demonstrated that variable PD-L1 expression and its saturation by atezolizumab, avelumab, and durvalumab can be quantified independent of biophysical properties and pharmacokinetics of antibodies. Next, we used [64Cu]WL12 to evaluate the impact of time and dose on free fraction of tumor PD-L1 levels during treatment. These quantitative measures enabled, by mathematical modeling, prediction of antibody doses needed to achieve therapeutically effective occupancy (defined as >90%). Thus, we show that peptide-based PET is a promising tool for optimizing dose and therapeutic regimens employing PD-L1 checkpoint antibodies, and can be used for improving therapeutic efficacy.
Dhiraj Kumar, Ala Lisok, Elyes Dahmane, Matthew D. McCoy, Sagar Shelake, Samit Chatterjee, Viola Allaj, Polina Sysa-Shah, Bryan Wharram, Wojciech G. Lesniak, Ellen Tully, Edward Gabrielson, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, John T. Poirier, Charles M. Rudin, Jogarao V.S. Gobburu, Martin G. Pomper, Sridhar Nimmagadda