The concept of treating cancer with antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) has gained momentum with the favorable activity and safety of trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1), SAR3419, and lorvotuzumab mertansine (IMGN901). All three ADCs utilize maytansinoid cell-killing agents which target tubulin and suppress microtubule dynamics. Each ADC utilizes a different optimized chemical linker to attach the maytansinoid to the antibody. Characterizing the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of these ADCs in preclinical animal models is important to understanding their efficacy and safety profiles. The ADME properties of these ADCs in rodents were inferred from studies with radio-labeled ADCs prepared with nonbinding antibodies since T-DM1, SAR3419, IMGN901 all lack cross-reactivity with rodent antigens. For studies exploring tumor localization and activation in tumor-bearing mice, tritium-labeled T-DM1, SAR3419, and IMGN901 were utilized. The chemical nature of the linker was found to have a significant impact on the ADME properties of these ADCs—particularly on the plasma pharmacokinetics and observed catabolites in tumor and liver tissues. Despite these differences, T-DM1, SAR3419, and IMGN901 were all found to facilitate efficient deliveries of active maytansinoid catabolites to the tumor tissue in mouse xenograft models. In addition, all three ADCs were effectively detoxified during hepatobiliary elimination in rodents.
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