Immunotherapy targeting programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) induces durable antitumor efficacy in many types of cancer. However, such clinical benefit is limited because of the insufficient reinvigoration of antitumor immunity with the drug alone; therefore, rational therapeutic combinations are required to improve its efficacy. In our preclinical study, we evaluated the antitumor effect of U3-1402, a human epidermal growth factor receptor 3–targeting (HER3–targeting) antibody-drug conjugate, and its potential synergism with PD-1 inhibition. Using a syngeneic mouse tumor model that is refractory to anti–PD-1 therapy, we found that treatment with U3-1402 exhibited an obvious antitumor effect via direct lysis of tumor cells. Disruption of tumor cells by U3-1402 enhanced the infiltration of innate and adaptive immune cells. Chemotherapy with exatecan derivative (Dxd, the drug payload of U3-1402) revealed that the enhanced antitumor immunity produced by U3-1402 was associated with the induction of alarmins, including high-mobility group box-1 (HMGB-1), via tumor-specific cytotoxicity. Notably, U3-1402 significantly sensitized the tumor to PD-1 blockade, as a combination of U3-1402 and the PD-1 inhibitor significantly enhanced antitumor immunity. Further, clinical analyses indicated that tumor-specific HER3 expression was frequently observed in patients with PD-1 inhibitor–resistant solid tumors. Overall, U3-1402 is a promising candidate as a partner of immunotherapy for such patients.
Koji Haratani, Kimio Yonesaka, Shiki Takamura, Osamu Maenishi, Ryoji Kato, Naoki Takegawa, Hisato Kawakami, Kaoru Tanaka, Hidetoshi Hayashi, Masayuki Takeda, Naoyuki Maeda, Takashi Kagari, Kenji Hirotani, Junji Tsurutani, Kazuto Nishio, Katsumi Doi, Masaaki Miyazawa, Kazuhiko Nakagawa