AXL, a tyrosine kinase receptor that is overexpressed in many solid and hematologic malignancies, facilitates cancer progression and is associated with poor clinical outcomes. Importantly, drug-induced expression of AXL results in resistance to conventional chemotherapy and targeted therapies. Together with its presence on multiple cell types in the tumor immune microenvironment, these features make it an attractive therapeutic target for AXL-expressing malignancies. ADCT-601 (mipasetamab uzoptirine) is an AXL-targeted antibody–drug conjugate (ADC) comprising a humanized anti-AXL antibody site specifically conjugated using GlycoConnect technology to PL1601, which contains HydraSpace, a Val-Ala cleavable linker and the potent pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) dimer cytotoxin SG3199. This study aimed to validate the ADCT-601 mode of action and evaluate its efficacy in vitro and in vivo, as well as its tolerability and pharmacokinetics. ADCT-601 bound to both soluble and membranous AXL, and was rapidly internalized by AXL-expressing tumor cells, allowing release of PBD dimer, DNA interstrand cross-linking, and subsequent cell killing. In vivo, ADCT-601 had potent and durable antitumor activity in a wide variety of human cancer xenograft mouse models, including patient-derived xenograft models with heterogeneous AXL expression where ADCT-601 antitumor activity was markedly superior to an auristatin-based comparator ADC. Notably, ADCT-601 had antitumor activity in a monomethyl auristatin E–resistant lung-cancer model and synergized with the PARP inhibitor olaparib in a BRCA1-mutated ovarian cancer model. ADCT-601 was well tolerated at doses of up to 6 mg/kg and showed excellent stability in vivo. These preclinical results warrant further evaluation of ADCT-601 in the clinic.
- AXL protein