Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
Pre-existing antibodies that bind polyethylene glycol are present in about 40% of healthy individuals. It is currently unknown if pre-existing anti-polyethylene glycol (PEG) antibodies can alter the bioactivity of pegylated drugs with a single long PEG chain, which represents the majority of newly developed pegylated medicines. Methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta (PEG-EPO) contains a single 30 kDa PEG chain and is used to treat patients suffering from anemia. We find that the pre-existing human anti-PEG IgM and IgG antibodies from normal donors can bind to PEG-EPO. The prevalence and concentrations of anti-PEG IgM and IgG antibodies were also higher in patients that responded poorly to PEG-EPO. Monoclonal anti-PEG IgM and IgG antibodies at concentrations found in normal donors blocked the biological activity of PEG-EPO to stimulate the production of new erythrocytes in mice and accelerated the clearance of 125I-PEG-EPO, resulting in PEG-EPO accumulation primarily in the liver and spleen. Accelerated clearance by the anti-PEG IgG antibody was mediated by the Fc portion of the antibody. Importantly, infusing higher doses of PEG-EPO could compensate for the inhibitory effects of anti-PEG antibodies, suggesting that pre-existing anti-PEG antibodies can be “dosed through.” Our study indicates that the bioactivity and therapeutic activity of PEG-EPO may be reduced in patients with elevated levels of pre-existing anti-PEG antibodies. New pegylated medicines with a single long PEG chain may also be affected in patients with high levels of anti-PEG antibodies.