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Covalent Immune Recruiters: Tools to Gain Chemical Control Over Immune Recognition

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posted on 13.03.2020 by Benjamin Lake, Nickolas Serniuck, Eden Kapcan, Alex Wang, Anthony F. Rullo
Unprecedented progress made in the treatment of cancer using the body’s own immune system has encouraged the development of synthetic molecule based immunotherapeutics. An emerging class of these compounds, called Antibody Recruiting Molecules (ARMs) or Antibody Engagers (AEs), functions by reversibly binding antibodies naturally present in human serum and recruiting these to cancer cells. The recruited antibodies then engage immune cells to form quaternary complexes that drive cancer erradication. Despite their promise, the requirement to form quaternary complexes governed by multiple equilibria complicates an understanding of their in vivo efficacy. Particularly problematic are low endogenous serum antibody concentrations and rapid clearance of AEs from circulation. Here we describe a new class of trifunctional chemical tools we call covalent immune recruiters (CIRs). CIRs covalently label specific serum antibodies in a selective manner with a target protein binding ligand. CIRs thereby exert well-defined control over antibody recruitment and simplify quaternary complex equilibium, enabling probing of the resultant effects on immune recognition. We demonstrate CIRs can selectively covalently label anti-DNP IgG, a natural human antibody, directly in human serum to drive efficient immune cell recognition of targets. We expect CIRs will be useful tools to probe how quaternary complex stability impacts the immune recognition of cancer in vivo, revealing new design principles to guide the development of future AEs.