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1.  An Anti-PCSK9 Antibody Reduces LDL-Cholesterol On Top Of A Statin And Suppresses Hepatocyte SREBP-Regulated Genes 
Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a promising therapeutic target for treating coronary heart disease. We report a novel antibody 1B20 that binds to PCSK9 with sub-nanomolar affinity and antagonizes PCSK9 function in-vitro. In CETP/LDLR-hemi mice two successive doses of 1B20, administered 14 days apart at 3 or 10 mpk, induced dose dependent reductions in LDL-cholesterol (≥ 25% for 7-14 days) that correlated well with the extent of PCSK9 occupancy by the antibody. In addition, 1B20 induces increases in total plasma antibody-bound PCSK9 levels and decreases in liver mRNA levels of SREBP-regulated genes PCSK9 and LDLR, with a time course that parallels decreases in plasma LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C). Consistent with this observation in mice, in statin-responsive human primary hepatocytes, 1B20 lowers PCSK9 and LDLR mRNA levels and raises serum steady-state levels of antibody-bound PCSK9. In addition, mRNA levels of several SREBP regulated genes involved in cholesterol and fatty-acid synthesis including ACSS2, FDPS, IDI1, MVD, HMGCR, and CYP51A1 were decreased significantly with antibody treatment of primary human hepatocytes. In rhesus monkeys, subcutaneous (SC) dosing of 1B20 dose-dependently induces robust LDL-C lowering (maximal ~70%), which is correlated with increases in target engagement and total antibody-bound PCSK9 levels. Importantly, a combination of 1B20 and Simvastatin in dyslipidemic rhesus monkeys reduced LDL-C more than either agent alone, consistent with a mechanism of action that predicts additive effects of anti-PCSK9 agents with statins. Our results suggest that antibodies targeting PCSK9 could provide patients powerful LDL lowering efficacy on top of statins, and lower cardiovascular risk.
doi:10.7150/ijbs.3524
PMCID: PMC3282994  PMID: 22355267
PCSK9; low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C); hypercholesterolemia; LDL receptor; sterol regulatory element binding protein (SREBP); primary hepatocytes
2.  IgG2m4, an engineered antibody isotype with reduced Fc function 
mAbs  2009;1(6):572-579.
The Fc region of an antibody mediates effector functions such as antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC), and plays a key role in the in vivo half-life of an antibody. In designing antibody therapeutics, it is sometimes desirable that the antibody has altered Fc-mediated properties. In the case of a “benign blocker” antibody, it is often desirable to diminish or abolish the ADCC and CDC functions while retaining its PK profile. Here, we report a novel engineered IgG isotype, IgG2m4, with reduced Fc functionality. IgG2m4 is based on the IgG2 isotype with four key amino acid residue changes derived from IgG4 (H268Q, V309L, A330S and P331S). An IgG2m4 antibody has an overall reduction in complement and Fcγ receptor binding in in vitro binding analyses while maintaining the normal in vivo serum half-life in rhesus.
PMCID: PMC2791314  PMID: 20073128
IgG2m4; IgG; isotype; benign blocker; Fcγ receptors; C1q
3.  Affinity maturation and characterization of a human monoclonal antibody against HIV-1 gp41 
mAbs  2009;1(5):462-474.
The human D5 monoclonal antibody binds to the highly conserved hydrophobic pocket on the N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) trimer of HIV-1 gp41 and exhibits modest yet relatively broad neutralization activity. Both binding and neutralization depend on residues in the complementarity determining regions (CDRs) of the D5 IgG variable domains on heavy chain (VH) and light chain (VL). In an effort to increase neutralization activity to a wider range of HIV-1 strains, we have affinity matured the parental D5 scFv by randomizing selected residues in 5 of its 6 CDRs. The resulting scFv variants derived from four different CDR changes showed enhanced binding affinities to gp41 NHR mimetic (5-helix) which correlated to improved neutralization potencies by up to 8-fold. However, when converted to IgG1s, these D5 variants had up to a 12-fold reduction in neutralization potency over their corresponding scFvs despite their slightly enhanced in vitro binding affinities. Remarkably, D5 variant IgG1s bearing residue changes in CDRs that interact with epitope residues N-terminal to the hydrophobic pocket (such as VH CDR3 and VL CDR3) retained more neutralization potency than those containing residue changes in pocket-interacting CDRs (such as VH CDR2). These results provide compelling evidence for the existence of a steric block to an IgG that extends to the gp41 NHR hydrophobic pocket region, and can be a useful guide for developing therapeutic antibodies and vaccines circumventing this block.
PMCID: PMC2759496  PMID: 20065653
affinity maturation; monoclonal antibody; scFv; gp41; HIV-1; neutralization
4.  Characterization of Notch1 Antibodies That Inhibit Signaling of Both Normal and Mutated Notch1 Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9094.
Background
Notch receptors normally play a key role in guiding a variety of cell fate decisions during development and differentiation of metazoan organisms. On the other hand, dysregulation of Notch1 signaling is associated with many different types of cancer as well as tumor angiogenesis, making Notch1 a potential therapeutic target.
Principal Findings
Here we report the in vitro activities of inhibitory Notch1 monoclonal antibodies derived from cell-based and solid-phase screening of a phage display library. Two classes of antibodies were found, one directed against the EGF-repeat region that encompasses the ligand-binding domain (LBD), and the second directed against the activation switch of the receptor, the Notch negative regulatory region (NRR). The antibodies are selective for Notch1, inhibiting Jag2-dependent signaling by Notch1 but not by Notch 2 and 3 in reporter gene assays, with EC50 values as low as 5±3 nM and 0.13±0.09 nM for the LBD and NRR antibodies, respectively, and fail to recognize Notch4. While more potent, NRR antibodies are incomplete antagonists of Notch1 signaling. The antagonistic activity of LBD, but not NRR, antibodies is strongly dependent on the activating ligand. Both LBD and NRR antibodies bind to Notch1 on human tumor cell lines and inhibit the expression of sentinel Notch target genes, including HES1, HES5, and DTX1. NRR antibodies also strongly inhibit ligand-independent signaling in heterologous cells transiently expressing Notch1 receptors with diverse NRR “class I” point mutations, the most common type of mutation found in human T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). In contrast, NRR antibodies failed to antagonize Notch1 receptors bearing rare “class II” or “class III” mutations, in which amino acid insertions generate a duplicated or constitutively sensitive metalloprotease cleavage site. Signaling in T-ALL cell lines bearing class I mutations is partially refractory to inhibitory antibodies as compared to cell-penetrating gamma-secretase inhibitors.
Conclusions/Significance
Antibodies that compete with Notch1 ligand binding or that bind to the negative regulatory region can act as potent inhibitors of Notch1 signaling. These antibodies may have clinical utility for conditions in which inhibition of signaling by wild-type Notch1 is desired, but are likely to be of limited value for treatment of T-ALLs associated with aberrant Notch1 activation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009094
PMCID: PMC2817004  PMID: 20161710

Results 1-4 (4)