Near-infrared photoimmunotherapy targeting EGFR-Shedding new light on glioblastoma treatment

Thomas A Burley, Justyna Mączyńska, Anant Shah, Wojciech Szopa, Kevin J Harrington, Jessica K R Boult, Anna Mrozek-Wilczkiewicz, Maria Vinci, Jeffrey C Bamber, Wojciech Kaspera, Gabriela Kramer-Marek

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Glioblastomas (GBMs) are high-grade brain tumors, differentially driven by alterations (amplification, deletion or missense mutations) in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), that carry a poor prognosis of just 12-15 months following standard therapy. A combination of interventions targeting tumor-specific cell surface regulators along with convergent downstream signaling pathways may enhance treatment efficacy. Against this background, we investigated a novel photoimmunotherapy approach combining the cytotoxicity of photodynamic therapy with the specificity of immunotherapy. An EGFR-specific affibody (ZEGFR:03115 ) was conjugated to the phthalocyanine dye, IR700DX, which when excited with near-infrared light produces a cytotoxic response. ZEGFR:03115 -IR700DX EGFR-specific binding was confirmed by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. The conjugate showed effective targeting of EGFR positive GBM cells in the brain. The therapeutic potential of the conjugate was assessed both in vitro, in GBM cell lines and spheroids by the CellTiter-Glo® assay, and in vivo using subcutaneous U87-MGvIII xenografts. In addition, mice were imaged pre- and post-PIT using the IVIS/Spectrum/CT to monitor treatment response. Binding of the conjugate correlated to the level of EGFR expression in GBM cell lines. The cell proliferation assay revealed a receptor-dependent response between the tested cell lines. Inhibition of EGFRvIII+ve tumor growth was observed following administration of the immunoconjugate and irradiation. Importantly, this response was not seen in control tumors. In conclusion, the ZEGFR:03115 -IR700DX showed specific uptake in vitro and enabled imaging of EGFR expression in the orthotopic brain tumor model. Moreover, the proof-of-concept in vivo PIT study demonstrated therapeutic efficacy of the conjugate in subcutaneous glioma xenografts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2363-2374
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2018


Cite this

Burley, T. A., Mączyńska, J., Shah, A., Szopa, W., Harrington, K. J., Boult, J. K. R., Mrozek-Wilczkiewicz, A., Vinci, M., Bamber, J. C., Kaspera, W., & Kramer-Marek, G. (2018). Near-infrared photoimmunotherapy targeting EGFR-Shedding new light on glioblastoma treatment. International Journal of Cancer, 142(11), 2363-2374.