Preclinical Development of Near-Infrared-Labeled CD38-Targeted Daratumumab for Optical Imaging of CD38 in Multiple Myeloma

Purpose: Cluster of differentiation 38 (CD38) is a promising therapeutic target in multiple myeloma (MM) patients and has resulted in the development of several CD38 immunotherapies. Current methods to evaluate CD38 expression in the preclinical setting include ex vivo flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry, which can be cumbersome and do not give whole-body information. In vivo imaging technologies such as positron emission tomography rely on decay of radioisotopes, limiting the number of molecular interactions observed at any given time point. Here, we demonstrate the use of near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging for spatiotemporal monitoring of CD38 expression in preclinical MM using the anti-CD38 daratumumab (DARA) conjugated to the NIR fluorophore IRDye800CW (DARA-IRDye800).

Procedures: Stability studies with human serum and binding assays with human myeloma cells were performed with DARA-IRDye800. Immunocompromised mice with intra- and extramedullary tumors (n = 5/group) were administered with DARA-IRDye800 for in vivo imaging up to 7 days after injection. Ex vivo biodistribution and flow cytometry studies were performed to validate in vivo imaging results. A separate therapy study was performed in mice with intramedullary tumors that were treated and not treated with DARA at a therapeutic dose (n = 7/group). DARA-IRDye800 was administered for subsequent in vivo and ex vivo imaging in both cohorts of mice.

Results: DARA-IRDye800 maintained stability and had high affinity for CD38 (KD = 3.5 ± 0.05 nM). DARA-IRDye800 demonstrated a 5- and 18-fold increase in contrast in tumor-bearing regions of mice with extra- and intramedullary MM. Finally, mice treated with therapeutic doses of DARA and imaged with DARA-IRDye800 showed an 11-fold decrease in fluorescence intensities in vivo compared with untreated controls.

Conclusions: Our studies establish DARA-IRDye800 as a promising contrast agent for preclinical evaluation of CD38 expression and for further investigating myeloma engraftment and kinetics in relation to anti-CD38 therapies.