Int J Med Sci 2019; 16(9):1188-1198. doi:10.7150/ijms.35452 This issue

Research Paper

Evaluation of a novel monoclonal antibody against tumor-associated MUC1 for diagnosis and prognosis of breast cancer

Natascha Stergiou1✉, Johannes Nagel2, Stefanie Pektor3, Anne-Sophie Heimes4, Jörg Jäkel5, Walburgis Brenner4, Marcus Schmidt4, Matthias Miederer3, Horst Kunz6, Frank Roesch2*, Edgar Schmitt1✉*

1. Institute for Immunology, University Medical Center;
2. Institute for Nuclear chemistry, Johannes-Gutenberg University;
3. Clinic and Polyclinic for Nuclear Medicine, University Medical Center;
4. Department of Obstetrics and Women's Health, University Medical Center, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Germany,
5. Department of Pathology, University Medical Center;
6. Institute for Organic Chemistry, Johannes-Gutenberg University.
*joint senior author

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Stergiou N, Nagel J, Pektor S, Heimes AS, Jäkel J, Brenner W, Schmidt M, Miederer M, Kunz H, Roesch F, Schmitt E. Evaluation of a novel monoclonal antibody against tumor-associated MUC1 for diagnosis and prognosis of breast cancer. Int J Med Sci 2019; 16(9):1188-1198. doi:10.7150/ijms.35452. Available from

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There is still a great unmet medical need concerning diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer which could be addressed by utilizing specific molecular targets. Tumor-associated MUC1 is expressed on over 90 % of all breast cancer entities and differs strongly from its physiological form on epithelial cells, therefore presenting a unique target for breast cancer diagnosis and antibody-mediated immune therapy. Utilizing an anti-tumor vaccine based on a synthetically prepared glycopeptide, we generated a monoclonal antibody (mAb) GGSK-1/30, selectively recognizing human tumor-associated MUC1. This antibody targets exclusively tumor-associated MUC1 in the absence of any binding to MUC1 on healthy epithelial cells thus enabling the generation of breast tumor-specific radiolabeled immune therapeutic tools.

Methods: MAb GGSK-1/30 was used for immunohistochemical analysis of human breast cancer tissue. Its desferrioxamine (Df')-conjugate was synthesized and labelled with 89Zr. [89Zr]Zr-Df'-GGSK-1/30 was evaluated as a potential PET tracer. Binding and pharmacokinetic properties of [89Zr]Zr-Df'-GGSK-1/30 were analyzed in vitro using human and murine cell lines that express tumor-associated MUC1. Self-generated primary murine breast cancer cells expressing human tumor-associated MUC1 were transplanted subcutaneously in wild type and human MUC1-transgenic mice. The pharmacology of [89Zr]Zr-Df'-GGSK-1/30 was investigated using breast tumor-bearing mice in vivo by PET/MRT imaging as well as by ex vivo organ biodistribution analysis.

Results: The mAb GGSK-1/30 stained specifically human breast tumor tissue and can be possibly used to predict the severity of disease progression based on the expression of the tumor-associated MUC1. For in vivo imaging, the Df'-conjugated mAb was radiolabeled with a radiochemical yield of 60 %, a radiochemical purity of 95 % and an apparent specific activity of 6.1 GBq/µmol. After 7 d, stabilities of 84 % in human serum and of 93 % in saline were observed. In vitro cell studies showed strong binding to human tumor-associated MUC1 expressing breast cancer cells. The breast tumor-bearing mice showed an in vivo tumor uptake of >50 %ID/g and clearly visible specific enrichment of the radioconjugate via PET/MRT.

Principal conclusions: Tumor-associated MUC1 is a very important biomarker for breast cancer next to the traditional markers estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and HER/2-neu. The mAb GGSK-1/30 can be used for the diagnosis of over 90% of breast cancers, including triple negative breast cancer based on biopsy staining. Its radioimmunoconjugate represents a promising PET-tracer for breast cancer imaging selectively targeting breast cancer cells.

Keywords: MUC1, breast cancer diagnosis, mAb, 89Zr