Folic acid (pteroylglutamic acid) represents a useful ligand for targeted cancer therapies because it binds to a common epithelial tumor antigen known as the folate receptor. We previously devised an immunotherapy strategy that uses a bispecific ligand, a folate-hapten (FITC) conjugate, to redirect endogenously induced anti-FITC antibodies to folate receptor-positive tumor cells following parenteral administration. Here, we present results from preclinical pharmacokinetic and tissue bio-distribution studies using a radioactive folate-FITC conjugate and results from dose optimization studies done in tumor-bearing animals. Folate-FITC was found to be rapidly eliminated in non-immunized mice; however, in immunized hosts, folate-FITC was shown to form immune complexes with FITC-specific antibodies, the consequence of which was a ∼ 173-fold increase in drug exposure (i.e., area under the curve). Using a newly developed ELISA assay, the extent of circulating anti-FITC antibodies occupied by parenterally given folate-FITC was determined to be proportional to the given dose. Furthermore, high doses of folate-FITC were found to promote the cosaturation of tumor cell surface folate receptors and circulating FITC-specific antibodies, blocking the immune recognition of tumor cells and thereby reducing antitumor activity. Nonetheless, by extending the duration of treatment and administering subsaturating doses of folate-FITC, enhanced antitumor response was observed in mice bearing established folate receptor - positive M109 tumors. Overall, results from the present study may help to guide clinicians through on-going clinical investigations of folate-targeted immunotherapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research