Immunotherapy has emerged as a promising and effective treatment for cancer. The frequently used immunotherapy agents are immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as antibodies specific to PD1, PD-L1, or CTLA-4. However, these drugs are highly expensive, and most people in the world cannot access the treatment. The development of recombinant protein production platforms that are cost-effective, scalable, and safe is needed. Plant platforms are attractive because of their low production cost, speed, scalability, lack of human and animal pathogens, and post-translational modifications that enable them to produce effective monoclonal antibodies. In this study, an anti-PD1 IgG4 monoclonal antibody (mAb) was transiently produced in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. The plant-produced anti-PD1 mAb was compared to the commercial nivolumab produced in CHO cells. Our results showed that both antibodies have similar protein structures, and the N-glycans on the plant-produced antibody lacks plant-specific structures. The PD1 binding affinity of the plant-produced and commercial nivolumab, determined by two different techniques, that is, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR), are also comparable. Plant-produced nivolumab binds to human PD1 protein with high affinity and specificity, blocks the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction, and enhances T cell function, comparable to commercial nivolumab. These results confirmed that plant-produced anti-PD1 antibody has the potential to be effective agent for cancer immunotherapy.
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