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01.12.2017 | Letter to the Editor | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Journal of Hematology & Oncology 1/2017

Indatuximab ravtansine (BT062) combination treatment in multiple myeloma: pre-clinical studies

Journal of Hematology & Oncology > Ausgabe 1/2017
Kurt Schönfeld, Chantal Zuber, Jan Pinkas, Thomas Häder, Katrin Bernöster, Christoph Uherek
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s13045-016-0380-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Multiple myeloma is a highly aggressive malignancy characterised by the clonal proliferation of plasma cells in the bone marrow and associated organ damage resulting from the presence of monoclonal proteins (M-proteins) in the blood or urine. The cell surface heparan sulphate proteoglycan CD138 (syndecan-1) is a transmembrane protein receptor for the extracellular matrix (ECM) that mediates cell-cell adhesion via interactions with heparan-binding molecules. In multiple myeloma, CD138 has been shown to be a co-receptor for multiple myeloma growth factors [ 1]. CD138 is overexpressed on malignant plasma cells and is used as a primary diagnostic marker for multiple myeloma [ 2]. Indatuximab ravtansine (BT062) is an antibody-drug conjugate based on a murine/human chimeric form of B-B4 (specific for CD138), linked to the maytansinoid drug DM4 by disulphide bonds and has previously been shown to significantly inhibit multiple myeloma tumour growth in vivo and to prolong host survival in xenograft mouse models of human multiple myeloma [ 3]. However, treatment of multiple myeloma typically involves combination therapy [ 46]. Since indatuximab ravtansine has a unique mode of action that is different to that of standard of care therapies, it might be a suitable combination partner with approved drugs for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Therefore, the effects of indatuximab ravtansine in combination with some clinically approved therapies for multiple myeloma were investigated in both in vitro and in vivo models (Additional file 1: Methods). In vitro, anti-tumour-effect studies in RPMI 8226, MOLP-8 and U266 cell lines demonstrated significant CD138 expression and sensitivity to indatuximab ravtansine (Fig.  1a–c, Additional file 2: Figure S1; IC 50 200 pM, RPMI 8226; 40 pM, MOLP-8; 20 pM, U266). Further in vitro studies investigated the cytotoxic effects of potential drug combinations. Additive or synergistic effects were observed for indatuximab ravtansine in combination with bortezomib, thalidomide, lenalidomide, melphalan or dexamethasone in vitro in most cell lines (Fig.  1d).
Mouse xenograft models (MOLP-8 and MMXF L363) were then used to investigate in vivo the anti-tumour activity of combination therapy with indatuximab ravtansine and clinically approved myeloma drugs. In MOLP-8 xenograft mouse models, indatuximab ravtansine exhibited a dose-response effect on tumour regression and this effect was enhanced when assessed in combination with lenalidomide. Lenolidamide (and later in combination with dexamethasone) was chosen for in vivo studies based on the in vitro results and due to it being an established, clinically approved treatment for multiple myeloma. The greatest effects on MOLP-8 tumour regression were observed with 21.2 mg/kg/day indatuximab ravtansine and 100 mg/kg/day lenalidomide (Fig.  2a, Additional file 3: Table S1).
The anti-tumour activity of indatuximab ravtansine was also investigated in combination with both lenalidomide and dexamethasone in an aggressive xenograft model using the plasma cell myeloma cell line MMXF L363. In this xenograft model, indatuximab ravtansine treatment alone (2 and 4 mg/kg), as well as the combination of lenalidomide and dexamethasone resulted in tumour growth delay (Fig.  2b). When assessed alone, single-agent indatuximab ravtansine at a dose of 4 mg/kg achieved similar anti-tumour activity as the combination of lenalidomide and dexamethasone. Furthermore, a stronger effect on tumour growth was observed when indatuximab ravtansine 4 mg/kg was combined with lenalidomide and dexamethasone (Fig.  2b). Treatment with indatuximab ravtansine was well tolerated.
Single-agent indatuximab ravtansine has already been shown to have clinical activity in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma [ 7, 8]. These pre-clinical data provide a basis for the development of indatuximab ravtansine in combination with clinically approved anti-myeloma drugs such as lenalidomide and dexamethasone and in light of these results, a clinical phase I/IIa study has been initiated to evaluate the safety and efficacy of indatuximab ravtansine in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. Promising initial results from this study have been reported [ 9], and the trial is currently ongoing.


We thank Ian Morgan, Sarah Diffen and Katrina Mullin from 4C Consultants International for editing and proofreading of the manuscript.


This study was funded by Biotest AG.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets supporting the conclusions of this article are included within this article and additional files.

Authors’ contributions

All authors contributed to study design, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, manuscript drafting and approval.

Competing interests

During data collection, KS, CZ, TH, KB and CU were employees of Biotest AG. JP is an employee of ImmunoGen Inc.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

MOLP-8 xenograft mouse experiments were performed at ImmunoGen Inc. (Waltham, USA). The study was conducted under Protocol PR-029.08 which was approved by ImmunoGen’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. All procedures were carried out in accordance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the US National Institutes of Health. MMXF L363 xenograft experiments were carried out at Oncotest GmbH (Freiburg, Germany). The animal experiments were approved by the Committee on the Ethics of Animal Experiments of the regional council (permit number G-13/13) and conducted according to the guidelines of the German Animal Welfare Act (Tierschutzgesetz).
Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://​creativecommons.​org/​licenses/​by/​4.​0/​), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://​creativecommons.​org/​publicdomain/​zero/​1.​0/​) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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