Diels-alder reaction for tumor pretargeting: In vivo chemistry can boost tumor radiation dose compared with directly labeled antibody

Raffaella Rossin, Tilman Läppchen, Sandra M. Van Den Bosch, Richard Laforest, Marc S. Robillard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Current pretargeting systems use noncovalent biologic interactions, which are prone to immunogenicity. We previously developed a novel approach based on the bioorthogonal reaction between a radiolabeled tetrazine and an antibody-conjugated trans-cyclooctene (TCO). However, the tumor-to-blood ratio was low due to reaction with freely circulating antibody-TCO. Methods: Here we developed 2 tetrazine-functionalized clearing agents that enable rapid reaction with and removal of a TCO-tagged antibody (CC49) from blood. Next, we incorporated this approach into an optimized pretargeting protocol in LS174T-bearing mice. Then we compared the pretargeted 177Lu-labeled tetrazine with 177Lu-labeled CC49. The biodistribution data were used for mouse and human dosimetry calculations. Results: The use of a clearing agent led to a doubling of the tetrazine tumor uptake and a 125-fold improvement of the tumor-to-blood ratio at 3 h after tetrazine injection. Mouse dosimetry suggested that this should allow for an 8-fold higher tumor dose than is possible with nonpretargeted radioimmunotherapy. Also, humans treated with CC49-TCO-pretargeted 177Lu-tetrazine would receive a dose to nontarget tissues 1 to 2 orders of magnitude lower than with directly labeled CC49. Conclusion: The in vivo performance of chemical pretargeting falls within the range of results obtained for the clinically validated pretargeting approaches in mice, with the advantage of potentially allowing for fractionated radiotherapy as a result of a lower likelihood of immunogenicity. These findings demonstrate that biologic pretargeting concepts can be translated to rapid bioorthogonal chemical approaches with retained potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1989-1995
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013


  • Clearing agent
  • Diels-Alder
  • Dosimetry
  • Pretargeting


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