Sialyl Lewis A (sLeA, also known as CA19-9), a tetrasaccharide selectively and highly expressed on advanced adenocarcinomas including colon, stomach, and pancreatic cancers, has long been considered as an attractive target for active and passive vaccination. While progress in antibodies targeting tumor-associated protein antigens resulted in an impressive array of therapeutics for cancer treatment, similar progress in exploiting tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens, such as sLeA, has been hampered by the lack of a detailed understanding of the singular characteristics of these antigens. We have addressed this issue by analyzing antibodies derived from patients immunized with an sLeA/KLH vaccine. These antibodies were engineered to mediate tumor clearance in vivo in preclinical models through Fc-FcγR interactions. However, in contrast to protein antigens in which hFcγRIIIA engagement was both necessary and sufficient to mediate tumor clearance in both preclinical and clinical settings, a similar selective dependence was not seen for anti-sLeA antibodies. Thus, re-engineering the Fc portion of sLeA-targeting antibodies to broadly enhance their affinity for activating FcγRs led to an enhanced therapeutic effect. These findings will facilitate the development of more efficient anticancer therapies and further advance this promising class of therapeutic antibodies into clinical use.
Polina Weitzenfeld, Stylianos Bournazos, Jeffrey V. Ravetch