Molecular Cancer Theraputics: Trastuzumab Deruxtecan, Antibody–Drug Conjugate Targeting HER2, Is Effective in Pediatric Malignancies: A Report by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Consortium (Houghton, Kurmasheva)

HER2 is expressed in many pediatric solid tumors and is a target for innovative immune therapies, including CAR-T cells and antibody-drug conjugates (ADC). We evaluated the preclinical efficacy of trastuzumab deruxtecan (T-DXd, DS-8201a), a humanized monoclonal HER2-targeting antibody conjugated to a topoisomerase 1 inhibitor, DXd, in patient- and cell line–derived xenograft (PDX/CDX) models. HER2 mRNA expression was determined using RNA-seq and protein expression via IHC across multiple pediatric tumor PDX models. Osteosarcoma (OS), malignant rhabdoid tumor (MRT), and Wilms tumor (WT) models with varying HER2 expression were tested using 10 mice per group. Additional histologies such as Ewing sarcoma (EWS), rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), neuroblastoma (NB), and brain tumors were evaluated using single mouse testing (SMT) experiments. T-DXd or vehicle control was administered intravenously to mice harboring established flank tumors at a dose of 5 mg/kg on day 1. Event-free survival (EFS) and objective response were compared between treatment and control groups. HER2 mRNA expression was observed across histologies, with the highest expression in WT (median = 22 FPKM), followed by MRT, OS, and EWS. The relationship between HER2 protein and mRNA expression was inconsistent. T-DXd significantly prolonged EFS in 6/7 OS, 2/2 MRT, and 3/3 WT PDX models. Complete response (CR) or maintained CR (MCR) were observed for 4/5 WT and MRT models, whereas stable disease was the best response among OS models. SMT experiments also demonstrated activity across multiple solid tumors. Clinical trials assessing the efficacy of a HER2-directed ADC in pediatric patients with HER2-expressing tumors should be considered. 

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