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PurposeThe induction of 4-1BB signaling by agonistic antibodies can drive the activation and proliferation of effector T cells and thereby enhance a T-cell-mediated antitumor response. Systemic administration of anti-4-1BB-agonistic IgGs, although effective preclinically, has not advanced in clinical development due to their severe hepatotoxicity.Experimental designHere, we generated a humanized EGFR-specific 4-1BB-agonistic trimerbody, which replaces the IgG Fc region with a human collagen homotrimerization domain. It was characterized by structural analysis and in vitro functional studies. We also assessed pharmacokinetics, antitumor efficacy, and toxicity in vivo.ResultsIn the presence of a T-cell receptor signal, the trimerbody provided potent T-cell costimulation that was strictly dependent on 4-1BB hyperclustering at the point of contact with a tumor antigen-displaying cell surface. It exhibits significant antitumor activity in vivo, without hepatotoxicity, in a wide range of human tumors including colorectal and breast cancer cell-derived xenografts, and non-small cell lung cancer patient-derived xenografts associated with increased tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells. The combination of the trimerbody with a PD-L1 blocker led to increased IFNγ secretion in vitro and resulted in tumor regression in humanized mice bearing aggressive triple-negative breast cancer.ConclusionsThese results demonstrate the nontoxic broad antitumor activity of humanized Fc-free tumor-specific 4-1BB-agonistic trimerbodies and their synergy with checkpoint blockers, which may provide a way to elicit responses in most patients with cancer while avoiding Fc-mediated adverse reactions.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

Publication Date





3167 - 3177


Department of Antibody Engineering, Leadartis SL, Madrid, Spain.


T-Lymphocytes, Cell Line, Animals, Mice, Transgenic, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung, Breast Neoplasms, Lung Neoplasms, Disease Models, Animal, Immunotherapy, Lymphocyte Activation, Female, ErbB Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 9