Cancer progression is enhanced by the interaction of programmed death-ligand 1 (PDL1), which is associated with inhibition of the immune response against tumors, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which inhibits immune cell activity while inducing angiogenesis and proliferation of cancer cells. Dual inhibition of PDL1 and VEGF may therefore confer a synergistic anti-cancer therapeutic effect. We present a novel strategy for developing a therapeutic that simultaneously binds and inhibits both PDL1 and VEGF. We generated a bi-specific protein, designated DuRan-Bis, comprising a single chain variable fragment (scFv)-based inhibitor of PDL1 fused to an scFv-based inhibitor of VEGF, with the latter being attached to an Fc fragment. We found that DuRan-Bis binds to both PDL1 and VEGF with high affinity. Compared to treatments with mono-specific proteins, alone or in combination, the DuRan-Bis chimera showed superior inhibition of the proliferation of glioblastoma cells. In comparison to treatment with immune cells alone, a combination of immune cells with DuRan-Bis decreased the viability of head and neck cancer cells. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to use a single polypeptide chain scFv-scFv-Fc scaffold for engineering a high-affinity bi-specific inhibitor of PDL1 and VEGF.
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