Solid-state Stability of Antibody-drug Conjugates
Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) combine the cytotoxicity of traditional chemotherapy with the site-specificity of antibodies by conjugating payloads to antibodies with immunoaffinity. However, the conjugation alters the physicochemical properties of antibodies, increasing the risks of various types of degradation. The effects of common risk factors such as pH, temperature, and light on the stability of ADCs differ from their effects on monoclonal antibodies (mAb) due to these altered physicochemical properties.
To date, ADC researchers have developed linkers with improved in vivo stability, and begun to understand the deconjugation mechanisms in vivo. In contrast, the in vitro stability of ADCs has not gained comparable attention. All nine of the U.S. FDA approved ADCs are lyophilized to minimize the potential for degradation. However, there are few studies on the solid-state stability of ADCs. To evaluate lyophilized solids, pharmaceutical development relies heavily on accelerated stability studies, which take months to determine the best formulation. Characterization methods that are often used orthogonally with accelerated studies include Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), Raman spectroscopy, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and x-ray powder diffraction (XRPD). Results from these methods are often poorly correlated with stability, however. Thus, stability evaluation of solid-state ADC products, and other recombinant protein drugs, is often a bottleneck in their development.
To provide knowledge on how to improve the in vitro stability of lyophilized ADC formulations, the solid-state stability of ADC formulations with varying risk factors was studied in this dissertation project. The first study investigated interactions between an ADC and excipients in terms of solid-state stability enhancement. The second study investigated the process-driven instability of ADCs during lyophilization using various concentrations of ADCs. The first two studies incorporate a new method called solid-state hydrogen/deuterium exchange coupled with mass spectrometry (ssHDX-MS) as an analytical predictor of solid-state stability. The last study investigated the effects of pH on the stability of labile hydrazones, as a model for common linker chemistry used in ADCs.