For the creation of a successful antibody–drug conjugate (ADC), both scientific and clinical evidence has indicated that highly toxic anticancer agents (ACA) should be conjugated to a monoclonal antibody (mAb) to administer a reasonable amount of ADC to patients without compromising the affinity of the mAb. For ordinary ACA, the conjugation of a mAb to ACA-loaded micellar nanoparticles is clinically applicable. Tissue factor (TF) is often overexpressed in various cancer cells and tumor vascular endothelium. Accordingly, anti-TF-NC-6300, consisting of epirubicin-incorporating micelles (NC-6300) conjugated with the F(ab')2 of anti-TF mAb was developed. Thein vitro andin vivo efficacy and pharmacokinetics of anti-TF-NC-6300 were compared to NC-6300 using two human pancreatic cancer cell lines, BxPC3 (high TF expression) and SUIT2 (low TF expression), and a gastric cancer cell line, 44As3 (high TF expression). The intracellular uptake of epirubicin was faster and greater in BxPC3 cells treated with anti-TF-NC-6300, compared with NC-6300. Anti-TF-NC-6300 showed a superior antitumor activity in BxPC3 and 44As3 xenografts, compared with NC-6300, while the activities of both micelles were similar in the SUIT2 xenograft. A higher tumor accumulation of anti-TF-NC-6300 compared to NC-6300 was seen, regardless of the TF expression levels. However, anti-TF-NC-6300 appeared to be localized to the tumor cells with high TF expression. These results indicated that the enhanced antitumor effect of anti-TF-NC6300 may be independent of the tumor accumulation but may depend on the selective intratumor localization and the preferential internalization of anti-TF-NC-6300 into high TF tumor cells.
Considering its possible clinical use, our anti-TF-NC-6300 may continue to exert a high antitumor activity despite the existence of the tumor stromal barrier, since anti-TF-NC-6300 was capable of suppressing tumor growth associated with damage to the tumor vessels and the death of cancer cells in humans.