Multiepitope HER2 targeting enhances photoimmunotherapy of HER2-overexpressing cancer cells with pyropheophorbide-a immunoconjugates

Mark D. Savellano, Brian W. Pogue, P. Jack Hoopes, Ellen S. Vitetta, Keith D. Paulsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Multitargeting strategies improve the efficacy of antibody and immunotoxin therapies but have not yet been thoroughly explored for HER2-based cancer treatments. We investigated multiepitope HER2 targeting to boost photosensitizer immunoconjugate uptake as a way of enhancing photoimmunotherapy. Photoimmunotherapy may allow targeted photodynamic destruction of malignancies and may also potentiate anticancer antibodies. However, one obstacle preventing its clinical use is the delivery of enough photosensitizer immunoconjugates to target cells. Anti-HER2 photosensitizer immunoconjugates were constructed from two monoclonal antibodies (mAb), HER50 and HER66, using a novel method originally developed to label photosensitizer immunoconjugates with the photosensitizer, benzoporphyrin derivative verteporfin. Photosensitizer immunoconjugates were labeled instead with a promising alternative photosensitizer, pyropheophorbide-a (PPa), which required only minor changes to the conjugation procedure. Uptake and phototoxicity experiments using human cancer cells were conducted with the photosensitizer immunoconjugates and, for comparison, with free PPa. SK-BR-3 and SK-OV-3 cells served as HER2-overexpressing target cells. MDA-MB-468 cells served as HER2-nonexpressing control cells. Photosensitizer immunoconjugates with PPa/mAb molar ratios up to ∼10 specifically targeted and photodynamically killed HER2-overexpressing cells. On a per mole basis, photosensitizer immunoconjugates were less phototoxic than free PPa, but photosensitizer immunoconjugates were selective for target cells whereas free PPa was not. Multiepitope targeted photoimmunotherapy with a HER50 and HER66 photosensitizer immunoconjugate mixture was significantly more effective than single-epitope targeted photoimmunotherapy with a single anti-HER2 photosensitizer immunoconjugate, provided photosensitizer immunoconjugate binding was saturated. This study shows that multiepitope targeting enhances HER2-targeted photoimmunotherapy and maintains a high degree of specificity. Consequently, it seems that multitargeted photoimmunotherapy should also be useful against cancers that overexpress other receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6371-6379
Number of pages9
JournalCancer research
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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