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1.  In vitro and in vivo radiosensitization with AZD6244 (ARRY-142886), an inhibitor of Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase/Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinase 1/2 kinase 
Purpose
The Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathway is important for cell proliferation, survival and differentiation and is frequently upregulated in cancers. The MAPK pathway is also activated after exposure to ionizing radiation. We investigated the effects of AZD6244 (ARRY-142886), an inhibitor of MEK1/2, on radiation response.
Experimental Design
The effects of AZD6244 on the in vitro radiosensitivity of human cancer cell lines (A549, MiaPaCa2 and DU145) was evaluated using clonogenic assays. DNA damage repair was evaluated using γH2AX and mitotic catastrophe was measured using nuclear fragmentation. Cell cycle effects were measured with flow cytometry. Growth delay was used to evaluate the effects of AZD6244 on in vivo tumor radiosensitivity.
Results
Exposure of each cell line to AZD6244 prior to irradiation (IR) resulted in an increase in radiosensitivity with dose enhancement factors (DEF) at a surviving fraction of 0.1 ranging from 1.16 to 2.0. No effects of AZD6244 on radiation-induced apoptosis or persistence of γH2AX foci after IR were detected. Cells treated with AZD6244 had an increased mitotic index and decreased Chk1 phosphorylation at 1 and 3 hours after IR. Mitotic catastrophe was increased in cells receiving both AZD6244 and IR compared to the single treatments. In vivo studies revealed that AZD6244 administration to mice bearing A549 tumor xenografts resulted in a greater than additive increase in radiation-induced tumor growth delay (DEF of 3.38).
Conclusions
These results indicate that AZD6244 can enhance tumor cell radiosensitivity in vitro and in vivo and suggest that this effect involves an increase in mitotic catastrophe.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-2954
PMCID: PMC2798161  PMID: 19366835
2.  18F-FLT-PET for Response Evaluation of MEK Inhibitor Selumetinib (AZD6244, ARRY-142886) in Patients with Solid Tumors 
Selumetinib (AZD6244, ARRY-142886) is a potent, selective, uncompetitive inhibitor of MEK 1 / 2, part of the RAF/MEK/ERK protein kinase signal cascade, which is responsible for tumor. This pilot study was used to explore if 18F-fluoro-l-thymidine (FLT), a thymidine analogue positron emission tomography (PET) tracer and a surrogate marker for proliferation, can be used as an early predictor of response for patients with solid cancers treated with Selumetinib. FLT-PET scans were performed in four patients at baseline and after 2 weeks of treatment with Selumetinib. FLT uptake in tumors was analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively by measuring standard uptake value (SUV) max in regions of interest (ROI). Results were compared to computed tomography (CT) scans (baseline and after 8 weeks), which were evaluated using the response evaluation criteria in solid tumors (RECIST) 1.0 criteria. One patient with melanoma showed both a qualitative and quantitative decrease in FLT uptake associated with a decrease in sum of longest diameter of 12% RECIST on CT evaluation. Another patient who had colorectal carcinoma (CRC) showed a significant increase in FLT uptake with initially stable, but eventually progressive disease on CT. The other two patients (one with melanoma and one with CRC) showed no significant changes in FLT uptake, whereas CT evaluation showed progressive disease. This is the first report describing changes in FLT-PET in patients receiving Selumetinib. In two patients, changes in FLT uptake as early as after 2 weeks of treatment were consistent with CT results after 8 weeks. Biomarkers to predict and evaluate treatment the outcome of targeted therapies are highly warranted. These initial results need further investigation.
doi:10.4103/1450-1147.103413
PMCID: PMC3555396  PMID: 23372439
F-18 FLT; PET-CT; Selumetinib; treatment response
3.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;55(4):668-677.
Background
AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) is a potent small molecule inhibitor of MEK1/2 that is in phase 2 clinical development.
Procedures
AZD6244 was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel (1 nM-10μM). In vivo AZD6244 was tested at a dose of 100 mg/kg administered orally twice daily five days per week for 6 weeks. Subsequently, AZD6244 was evaluated against two juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (JPA) xenografts using once and twice daily dosing schedules. Phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was used as a surrogate for in vivo inhibition of MEK1/2 was determined by immunoblotting.
Results
At the highest concentration used in vitro (10 μM) AZD6244 only inhibited growth by 50% in 5 of the 23 cell lines. Against the in vivo tumor panels, AZD6244 induced significant differences in EFS distribution in 10 of 37 (27%) solid tumor models and 0 of 6 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) models. There were no objective responses. Pharmacodynamic studies indicated at this dose and schedule AZD6244 completely inhibited ERK1/2 phosphorylation. AZD6244 was evaluated against two JPA xenografts, BT-35 (wild type BRAF) and BT-40 (mutant [V600E] BRAF). BT-40 xenografts were highly sensitive to AZD6244, whereas BT-35 xenografts progressed on AZD6244 treatment.
Conclusions
At the dose and schedule of administration used, AZD6244 as a single agent had limited in vitro and in vivo activity against the PPTP tumor panels despite inhibition of MEK1/2 activity. However, AZD6244 was highly active against BT-40 JPA xenografts that harbor constitutively activated BRAF, causing complete regressions.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22576
PMCID: PMC3004092  PMID: 20806365
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; AZD6244
4.  Phase I pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic study of the prenyl transferase inhibitor AZD3409 in patients with advanced cancer 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;98(12):1951-1958.
AZD3409 is an orally active double prodrug that was developed as a novel dual prenyltransferase inhibitor. The formation of the active metabolite AZD3409 acid is mediated by esterases in plasma and cells. The aim of this phase I study was to determine the maximum tolerated dose, toxicities, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of AZD3409. AZD3409 was administered orally to patients with advanced solid malignancies using an interpatient dose-escalation scheme starting at 500 mg AZD3409 once daily. Twenty-nine patients were treated at seven dose levels. The MTD of part A was defined as 750 mg b.i.d. in the fasted state. Adverse events were mainly gastrointestinal and the severity was on average mild to moderate and reversible. The dose-limiting toxicities were vomiting, diarrhoea and uncontrolled nausea. Pharmacokinetic studies of the prodrug and the active metabolite indicated dose proportionality. Pharmacodynamic studies showed that farnesyltransferase (FTase) was inhibited at all dose levels. In conclusion, chronic oral dosing with AZD3409 is feasible and results in significant inhibition of FTase activity. Pharmacodynamic studies revealed that the maximal FTase inhibition, estimated at 49±11%, appeared to be reached at AZD3409 acid plasma concentrations at which the occurrence of drug-related toxicity was low. This study supports the rationale to implement biological effect studies in clinical trials with biologically active anticancer drugs to define optimal dosing regimens.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6604402
PMCID: PMC2441954  PMID: 18506143
AZD3409; prenyl transferase inhibitor; biological effect study
5.  Detection of BRAF mutations in the tumour and serum of patients enrolled in the AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) advanced melanoma phase II study 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;101(10):1724-1730.
Background:
This study investigated the potential clinical utility of circulating free DNA (cfDNA) as a source of BRAF mutation detection in patients enrolled into a phase II study of AZD6244, a specific MEK1/2 inhibitor, in patients with advanced melanoma.
Methods:
BRAF mutations were detected using Amplification Refractory Mutation System allele-specific PCR. BRAF mutation status was assessed in serum-derived cfDNA from 126 patients enrolled into the study and from 94 matched tumour samples.
Results:
Of 94 tumour samples, 45 (47.9%) were found to be BRAF mutation positive (BRAF+). Serum-derived cfDNA was BRAF+ in 33 of 126 (26.2%) samples, including in five samples for which tumour data were unavailable. Of BRAF+ tumours, 25 of 45 (55.6%) were BRAF+ in cfDNA. In three cases in which the tumour was negative, cfDNA was BRAF+. Progression-free survival (PFS) of patients with BRAF+ tumour and cfDNA was not significantly different compared with tumour BRAF+ but cfDNA BRAF-negative patients, indicating that cfDNA BRAF detection is not associated with poorer prognosis on PFS in stage III/IV advanced melanoma.
Conclusions:
These data demonstrate the feasibility of BRAF mutation detection in cfDNA of patients with advanced melanoma. Future studies should aim to incorporate BRAF mutation testing in cfDNA to further validate this biomarker for patient selection.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6605371
PMCID: PMC2778539  PMID: 19861964
AZD6244; amplification refractory mutation system; BRAF; circulating free DNA; cutaneous melanoma
6.  High level of AKT activity is associated with resistance to MEK inhibitor AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(21):2073-2080.
MEK/ERK activities are increased in many primary lung cancers, and MEK inhibitors have been tested clinically for treatment of non-small cell lung cancers. The molecular mechanisms of resistance to MEK inhibitors have not been clearly demonstrated, however, and no molecular biomarker that can predict lung cancer response to MEK inhibitors is available. By determining the dose-responses of 35 human lung cancer cell lines to MEK-specific inhibitor AZD6244, we identified subsets of lung cancer cell lines that are either sensitive or resistant to this agent. Subsequent molecular characterization showed that treatment with AZD6244 suppressed ERK phosphorylation in both sensitive and resistant cells, suggesting that resistance is not mediated by the activities of MEK/ERK themselves. Interestingly, we found that levels of phosphorylated AKT were dramatically higher in the resistant cancer cells than in the sensitive cells. Stable transfection of dominant-negative AKT into resistant cells by retroviral infection restored their susceptibility to AZD6244. These results indicate that phosphorylated AKT may be a biomarker of response to AZD6244 and that modulation of AKT activity may be a useful approach to overcome resistance to MEK inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2835993  PMID: 19783898
AZD6244; MEK inhibitor; resistance; AKT; lung cancer
7.  Identification of common predictive markers of in vitro response to the MEK inhibitor selumetinib (AZD6244; ARRY-142886) in human breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer cell lines 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(7):1985-1994.
Selumetinib (AZD6244; ARRY-142886) is a tight-binding, uncompetitive inhibitor of MEK1/2 currently in clinical development. We evaluated the effects of selumetinib in 31 human breast cancer cell lines and 43 human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines to identify characteristics correlating with in vitro sensitivity to MEK inhibition. IC50 less than 1µM (considered sensitive) was seen in 5 of 31 breast cancer cell lines and 15 of 43 NSCLC cell lines, with a correlation between sensitivity and raf mutations in breast cancer cell lines (p= 0.022) and ras mutations in NSCLC cell lines (p= 0.045). Evaluation of 27 of the NSCLC cell lines with Western blots demonstrated no clear association between MEK and PI3K pathway activation and sensitivity to MEK inhibition. Baseline gene expression profiles were generated for each cell line using Agilent gene expression arrays to identify additional predictive markers. Genes associated with differential sensitivity to selumetinib were seen in both histologies, including a small number of genes in which differential expression was common to both histologies. In total, these results suggest that clinical trials of selumetinib in breast cancer and NSCLC might select patients whose tumors harbor raf and ras mutations respectively.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-0037
PMCID: PMC2939826  PMID: 20587667
AZD6244; MEK; Breast cancer; Lung Cancer
8.  Impact of Combined mTOR and MEK Inhibition in Uveal Melanoma Is Driven by Tumor Genotype 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40439.
Uveal melanomas possess activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT/mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. MAPK activation occurs via somatic mutations in the heterotrimeric G protein subunits GNAQ and GNA11 for over 70% of tumors and less frequently via V600E BRAF mutations. In this report, we describe the impact of dual pathway inhibition upon uveal melanoma cell lines with the MEK inhibitor selumetinib (AZD6244/ARRY-142886) and the ATP-competitive mTOR kinase inhibitor AZD8055. While synergistic reductions in cell viability were observed with AZD8055/selumetinib in both BRAF and GNAQ mutant cell lines, apoptosis was preferentially induced in BRAF mutant cells only. In vitro apoptosis assay results were predictive of in vivo drug efficacy as tumor regressions were observed only in a BRAF mutant xenograft model, but not GNAQ mutant model. We went on to discover that GNAQ promotes relative resistance to AZD8055/selumetinib-induced apoptosis in GNAQ mutant cells. For BRAF mutant cells, both AKT and 4E-BP1 phosphorylation were modulated by the combination; however, decreasing AKT phosphorylation alone was not sufficient and decreasing 4E-BP1 phosphorylation was not required for apoptosis. Instead, cooperative mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) and MEK inhibition resulting in downregulation of the pro-survival protein MCL-1 was found to be critical for combination-induced apoptosis. These results suggest that the clinical efficacy of combined MEK and mTOR kinase inhibition will be determined by tumor genotype, and that BRAF mutant malignancies will be particularly susceptible to this strategy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040439
PMCID: PMC3393714  PMID: 22808163
9.  Phase I Study to Assess the Safety, Tolerability and Pharmacokinetics of AZD4877 in Japanese Patients with Solid Tumors 
Archives of Drug Information  2011;4(2):23-31.
Introduction
AZD4877 is a potent Eg5 inhibitor that has been shown to have an acceptable tolerability profile in a Phase I study of Western patients with solid tumors. This study was conducted to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetic (PK) profile, maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and efficacy of AZD4877 in a Japanese population with solid tumors.
Methods
In this Phase I, open-label, dose-escalation study, AZD4877 (10, 15, 20 or 25 mg) was administered as a 1-hour intravenous infusion on days 1, 8 and 15 of repeated 28-day cycles to Japanese patients with advanced solid tumors. Adverse events (AEs) were evaluated according to Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) version 3.0. PK variables were assessed pre- and post dosing. The MTD of AZD4877 was determined by evaluating dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs). Efficacy was evaluated by assessing best response according to Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors version 1.0.
Results
Of the 21 patients enrolled, 18 received at least one dose of AZD4877 (N = 3 in both the 10 and 15 mg cohorts, N = 6 in both the 20 and 25 mg cohorts). The most commonly reported AEs were fatigue and nausea (39% of patients each). One patient in each of the 20 and 25 mg cohorts experienced a DLT (neutropenia and febrile neutropenia). Dose escalation was halted at 25 mg and the MTD was not defined in this population. CTCAE grade ≥3 abnormal laboratory findings/vital signs were reported in 12 patients, with neutropenia (56%) and leukopenia (44%) being the most commonly reported. Exposure to AZD4877 was not fully dose proportional and AZD4877 clearance and elimination half-life appeared independent of dose. The best response to AZD4877 was stable disease in five of 16 evaluable patients.
Conclusion
AZD4877 up to doses of 25 mg was well tolerated in Japanese patients. There was little evidence of clinical efficacy.
doi:10.1111/j.1753-5174.2011.00034.x
PMCID: PMC3130141  PMID: 21765863
AZD4877; Eg5 Inhibitor; Solid Tumors; Japanese
10.  Phase I Trial of Oxaliplatin, Infusional 5-Fluorouracil, and Leucovorin (FOLFOX4) With Erlotinib and Bevacizumab in Colorectal Cancer 
Clinical colorectal cancer  2010;9(5):297-304.
Rationale
This phase I study was conducted to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of erlotinib, an oral epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, with 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin/oxaliplatin (FOLFOX4) in patients with advanced colorectal cancer (CRC). Bevacizumab was later included as standard of care at the MTD.
Patients and Methods
Patients received FOLFOX4 with escalating doses of erlotinib: dose level (DL) 1, 50 mg; DL 2, 100 mg; and DL 3, 150 mg once daily continuously. Bevacizumab 5 mg/kg days 1 and 15 was added at the MTD upon Food and Drug Administration approval. Correlative studies included pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics was assessed in paired skin biopsies, and fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scans.
Results
Fifteen patients received 60 cycles (120 FOLFOX treatments). Two dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) were seen at DL 3: intolerable grade 2 rash (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 2) lasting > 1 week, and grade 4 neutropenia. Dose level 2 was expanded to 6 more patients, this time adding bevacizumab, and 1 DLT of grade 3 mucositis occurred. As expected, the primary toxicities were cytopenias, diarrhea, rash, and fatigue. There were 2 occurrences of pneumatosis. One patient experienced an unrelated grade 4 myocardial infarction before starting chemotherapy. No pharmacokinetic drug interactions were observed. The Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors response rate was 11 of 14 (78%), median progression-free survival was 9.5 months, and median overall survival was 30 months. Three patients are currently alive > 3 years, with 1 having no evidence of disease.
Conclusion
The MTD of erlotinib with FOLFOX4 with or without bevacizumab is 100 mg daily. The regimen appeared to increase toxicity but showed activity in patients with CRC.
doi:10.3816/CCC.2010.n.043
PMCID: PMC3033228  PMID: 21208844
Epidermal growth factor receptor; Pharmacokinetics; Tyrosine kinase
11.  Selumetinib-Enhanced Radioiodine Uptake in Advanced Thyroid Cancer 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(7):623-632.
Background
Metastatic thyroid cancers that are refractory to radioiodine (iodine-131) are associated with a poor prognosis. In mouse models of thyroid cancer, selective mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway antagonists increase the expression of the sodium–iodide symporter and uptake of iodine. Their effects in humans are not known.
Methods
We conducted a study to determine whether the MAPK kinase (MEK) 1 and MEK2 inhibitor selumetinib (AZD6244, ARRY-142886) could reverse refractoriness to radioiodine in patients with metastatic thyroid cancer. After stimulation with thyrotropin alfa, dosimetry with iodine-124 positron-emission tomography (PET) was performed before and 4 weeks after treatment with selumetinib (75 mg twice daily). If the second iodine-124 PET study indicated that a dose of iodine-131 of 2000 cGy or more could be delivered to the metastatic lesion or lesions, therapeutic radioiodine was administered while the patient was receiving selumetinib.
Results
Of 24 patients screened for the study, 20 could be evaluated. The median age was 61 years (range, 44 to 77), and 11 patients were men. Nine patients had tumors with BRAF mutations, and 5 patients had tumors with mutations of NRAS. Selumetinib increased the uptake of iodine-124 in 12 of the 20 patients (4 of 9 patients with BRAF mutations and 5 of 5 patients with NRAS mutations). Eight of these 12 patients reached the dosimetry threshold for radioiodine therapy, including all 5 patients with NRAS mutations. Of the 8 patients treated with radioiodine, 5 had confirmed partial responses and 3 had stable disease; all patients had decreases in serum thyroglobulin levels (mean reduction, 89%). No toxic effects of grade 3 or higher attributable by the investigators to selumetinib were observed. One patient received a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome more than 51 weeks after radioiodine treatment, with progression to acute leukemia.
Conclusions
Selumetinib produces clinically meaningful increases in iodine uptake and retention in a subgroup of patients with thyroid cancer that is refractory to radioiodine; the effectiveness may be greater in patients with RAS-mutant disease. (Funded by the American Thyroid Association and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00970359.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1209288
PMCID: PMC3615415  PMID: 23406027
12.  Safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of AZD8055 in advanced solid tumours and lymphoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2012;107(7):1093-1099.
Background:
This study assessed the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the first-in-class dual mammalian target of rapamycin complex (mTORC)1/mTORC2 inhibitor, AZD8055.
Methods:
Patients with advanced solid malignancies or lymphomas were recruited into this phase I, open-label, dose-escalation study of AZD8055 starting at 10 mg twice-daily oral dosing (BID).
Results:
Forty-nine patients received AZD8055. Dose-limiting toxicities were reported at 40 mg (n=1), 90 mg (n=1) and 120 mg (n=3) BID; all were grade 3 rises in transaminases, reversible in all patients, apart from one who had liver metastases. The maximum tolerated dose was defined as 90 mg BID. The most frequent adverse events assessed to be related to AZD8055 were increased alanine aminotransferase (22%), increased aspartate aminotransferase (22%) and fatigue (16%). AZD8055 was rapidly absorbed (median tmax ∼0.5 h) and exposure increased with increasing doses. Seven patients had stable disease for ⩾4 months. Partial metabolic responses, assessed by fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography, were observed at ⩾40 mg BID (n=8 at day 35).
Conclusion:
The maximum tolerated dose for AZD8055 is 90 mg BID. Apart from elevated transaminases, which occurred at most dose levels, the drug had an acceptable toxicity profile; however, no RECIST responses were seen.
doi:10.1038/bjc.2012.368
PMCID: PMC3461162  PMID: 22935583
AZD8055; mTOR inhibitors; phase I
13.  A phase I, open-label, randomized crossover study to assess the effect of dosing of the MEK 1/2 inhibitor Selumetinib (AZD6244; ARRY-142866) in the presence and absence of food in patients with advanced solid tumors 
Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology  2011;68(6):1619-1628.
Purpose
This Phase I study assessed whether food influences the rate and extent of selumetinib absorption in patients with advanced solid malignancies and determined the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetic (PK) profile of selumetinib and its active metabolite N-desmethyl-selumetinib in fed and fasted states.
Methods
A single dose of 75 mg selumetinib was to be taken with food on Day 1 followed by a single dose of 75 mg after fasting for at least 10 h on Day 8, or vice versa, followed by twice daily dosing of 75 mg selumetinib from Day 10. Plasma concentrations and PK parameters were determined on Days 1 and 8. Patients could continue to receive selumetinib for as long as they benefitted from treatment.
Results
In total, 31 patients were randomized to receive selumetinib; 15 to fed/fasted sequence and 16 to fasted/fed sequence. Comprehensive PK sampling was performed on 11 and 10 patients, respectively. The geometric least-squares means of Cmax and AUC for selumetinib were reduced by 62% (ratio 0.38 90% CI 0.29, 0.50) and 19% (ratio 0.81 90% CI 0.74, 0.88), respectively, under fed compared with fasting conditions. The rate of absorption (tmax) of selumetinib (fed) was delayed by approximately 2.5 h (median). The food effect was also observed for the active metabolite N-desmethyl-selumetinib. Selumetinib was well tolerated.
Conclusions
The presence of food decreased the extent of absorption of selumetinib. It is recommended that for further clinical studies, selumetinib be taken on an empty stomach. Selumetinib demonstrated an acceptable safety profile in the advanced cancer population.
doi:10.1007/s00280-011-1732-7
PMCID: PMC3220813  PMID: 21953275
MEK 1/2 inhibitor; Selumetinib; Phase I; Food effect
14.  Transcriptional Pathway Signatures Predict MEK Addiction and Response to Selumetinib (AZD6244) 
Cancer research  2010;70(6):2264-2273.
Selumetinib (AZD6244, ARRY-142886) is a selective, non–ATP-competitive inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal–regulated kinase kinase (MEK)-1/2. The range of antitumor activity seen preclinically and in patients highlights the importance of identifying determinants of response to this drug. In large tumor cell panels of diverse lineage, we show that MEK inhibitor response does not have an absolute correlation with mutational or phospho-protein markers of BRAF/MEK, RAS, or phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activity. We aimed to enhance predictivity by measuring pathway output through coregulated gene networks displaying differential mRNA expression exclusive to resistant cell subsets and correlated to mutational or dynamic pathway activity. We discovered an 18-gene signature enabling measurement of MEK functional output independent of tumor genotype. Where the MEK pathway is activated but the cells remain resistant to selumetinib, we identified a 13-gene signature that implicates the existence of compensatory signaling from RAS effectors other than PI3K. The ability of these signatures to stratify samples according to functional activation of MEK and/or selumetinib sensitivity was shown in multiple independent melanoma, colon, breast, and lung tumor cell lines and in xenograft models. Furthermore, we were able to measure these signatures in fixed archival melanoma tumor samples using a single RT-qPCR–based test and found intergene correlations and associations with genetic markers of pathway activity to be preserved. These signatures offer useful tools for the study of MEK biology and clinical application of MEK inhibitors, and the novel approaches taken may benefit other targeted therapies.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1577
PMCID: PMC3166660  PMID: 20215513
15.  Apoptosis Induction by MEK Inhibition in Human Lung Cancer Cells Is Mediated by Bim 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e13026.
AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) is an inhibitor of MEK1/2 and can inhibit cell proliferation or induce apoptosis in a cell-type dependent manner. The precise molecular mechanism of AZD6244-induced apoptosis is not clear. To investigate mechanisms of AZD6244 induced apoptosis in human lung cancer, we determined the molecular changes of two subgroups of human lung cancer cell lines that are either sensitive or resistant to AZD6244 treatment. We found that AZD6244 elicited a large increase of Bim proteins and a smaller increase of PUMA and NOXA proteins, and induced cell death in sensitive lung cancer cell lines, but had no effect on other Bcl-2 related proteins in those cell lines. Knockdown of Bim by siRNA greatly increased the IC50 and reduced apoptosis for AZD6244 treated cells. We also found that levels of endogenous p-Thr32-FOXO3a and p-Ser253-FOXO3a were lower in AZD6244-sensitive cells than in AZD6244-resistant cells. In the sensitive cells, AZD6244 induced FOXO3a nuclear translocation required for Bim activation. Moreover, the silencing of FOXO3a by siRNA abrogated AZD6244-induced cell apoptosis. In addition, we found that transfection of constitutively active AKT up-regulated p-Thr32-FOXO3a and p-Ser253-FOXO3a expression and inhibited AZD6244-induced Bim expression in sensitive cells. These results show that Bim plays an important role in AZD6244-induced apoptosis in lung cancer cells and that the PI3K/AKT/FOXO3a pathway is involved in Bim regulation and susceptibility of lung cancer cells to AZD6244. These results have implications in the development of strategies to overcome resistance to MEK inhibitors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013026
PMCID: PMC2946397  PMID: 20885957
16.  A phase I trial of MK-0731, a Kinesin Spindle Protein (KSP) inhibitor, in patients with solid tumors 
Investigational New Drugs  2011;30(3):1088-1095.
Summary
Purpose
The kinesin spindle protein (KSP) is essential for separation of spindle poles during mitosis. Its inhibition results in mitotic arrest. This phase I trial examined safety, tolerability, dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), maximum tolerated dose (MTD), pharmacokinetic parameters, and anti-tumor activity of MK-0731, a potent inhibitor of KSP.
Experimental design
In part 1, patients with advanced solid tumors received MK-0731 intravenously over 24 h every 21 days starting at 6 mg/m2, escalating until MTD was reached. In part 2, patients with taxane-resistant tumors received the MTD. Plasma samples were collected to analyze the pharmacokinetics of MK-0731. Tumor response was evaluated using Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) v1.0.
Results
In part 1, 21 patients (median age 63 years) were treated with MK-0731 at doses ranging from 6 to 48 mg/m2/24 h for median four cycles. The dose-limiting toxicity was neutropenia and the MTD was 17 mg/m2/24 h. At the MTD, AUC (±SD) was 10.5 (±7.3) μM × hour, clearance (±SD) was 153 mL/min (±84), and t1/2 was 5.9 h. In part 2, 22 patients received the MTD and there were no DLTs. Although there were no objective tumor responses, four patients (with cervical, non-small cell lung, and ovarian cancers) had prolonged stable disease.
Conclusions
MK-0731 at the MTD of 17 mg/m2/day every 21 days in patients with solid tumors had few grade 3 and 4 toxicities with the major DLTs at higher doses being myelosuppression. Anti-tumor efficacy was suggested by the length of stable disease in selected patients with taxane-resistant tumors.
doi:10.1007/s10637-011-9653-1
PMCID: PMC3394096  PMID: 21424701
Kinesin spindle protein; Oncology; Neutropenia
17.  Simultaneous exposure of transformed cells to SRC family inhibitors and CHK1 inhibitors causes cell death 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2011;12(3):215-228.
The present studies were initiated to determine in greater molecular detail the regulation of CHK1 inhibitor lethality in transfected and infected breast cancer cells and using genetic models of transformed fibrobalsts. Multiple MEK1/2 inhibitors (PD184352, AZD6244 [ARRY-142886]) interacted with multiple CHK1 inhibitors (UCN-01 [7-hydroxystaurosporine], AZD7762) to kill mammary carcinoma cells and transformed fibroblasts. In transformed cells, CHK1 inhibitor-induced activation of ERK1/2 was dependent upon activation of SRC family non-receptor tyrosine kinases as judged by use of multiple SRC kinase inhibitors (PP 2, Dasatinib; AZD0530), use of SRC/FYN/YES deleted transformed fibroblasts or by expression of dominant negative SRC. Cell killing by SRC family kinase inhibitors and CHK1 inhibitors was abolished in BAX/BAK−/− transformed fibroblasts and suppressed by overexpression of BCL-XL. Treatment of cells with BCL-2/BCL-XL antagonists promoted SRC inhibitor + CHK1 inhibitor-induced lethality in a BAX/BAK-dependent fashion. Treatment of cells with [SRC + CHK1] inhibitors radio-sensitized tumor cells. These findings argue that multiple inhibitors of the SRC-RAS-MEK pathway interact with multiple CHK1 inhibitors to kill transformed cells.
doi:10.4161/cbt.12.3.16218
PMCID: PMC3230482  PMID: 21642769
CHK1; SRC; apoptosis; breast cancer; kinase; therapeutics; intrinsic; caspase
18.  Phase I first-in-human study of TAK-285, a novel investigational dual HER2/EGFR inhibitor, in cancer patients 
British Journal of Cancer  2012;106(4):666-672.
Background:
This phase I first-in-human study was conducted in Japanese patients to investigate the safety, pharmacokinetics (PKs), and determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of oral TAK-285, a novel dual erbB protein kinase inhibitor that specifically targets human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and HER2.
Methods:
The TAK-285 dose was escalated until MTD was determined. A second patient cohort received TAK-285 at the MTD for at least 4 weeks.
Results:
In all, 26 patients received TAK-285 at doses ranging from 50 to 400 mg once daily (q.d.) or twice daily (b.i.d.); 20 patients made up the dose escalation cohort and the remaining 6 patients were the repeated administration cohort. TAK-285 was well tolerated. Dose-limiting toxicities noted in two patients who received 400 mg b.i.d. were grade 3 increases in aminotransferases and grade 3 decreased appetite. Consequently, the MTD was determined to be 300 mg b.i.d. Absorption of TAK-285 was rapid after oral dosing, and plasma exposure at steady-state increased in a dose-proportional fashion for doses ranging from 50 to 300 mg b.i.d. A partial response was observed for one patient with parotid cancer who received 300 mg b.i.d.
Conclusion:
The toxicity profile and PK properties of oral TAK-285 warrant further evaluation.
doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.590
PMCID: PMC3322948  PMID: 22240796
first-in-human; phase I TAK-285; epidermal growth factor receptor; dual erbB protein kinase inhibitor family; receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor
19.  BRAF Gene Amplification Can Promote Acquired Resistance to MEK Inhibitors in Cancer Cells Harboring the BRAF V600E Mutation 
Science Signaling  2010;3(149):ra84.
Oncogenic BRAF mutations are found in several tumor types, including melanomas and colorectal cancers. Tumors with BRAF mutations have increased mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway activity and heightened sensitivity to BRAF and MEK (mitogen-activated or extracellular signal–regulated protein kinase kinase) inhibitors. To identify potential mechanisms of acquired drug resistance, we generated clones resistant to the allosteric MEK inhibitor AZD6244 from two BRAF V600E mutant colorectal cancer cell lines that are highly sensitive to MEK or BRAF inhibition. These AZD6244-resistant (AR) clones, which exhibited cross-resistance to BRAF inhibitors, acquired resistance through amplification of the BRAF gene. A small percentage of treatment-naïve parental cells showed preexisting BRAF amplification. We observed similar amplification in a subset of cells in a BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer. In cell lines, BRAF amplification increased the abundance of phosphorylated MEK and impaired the ability of AZD6244 to inhibit ERK (extracellular signal–regulated kinase) phosphorylation. The ability of AZD6244 to inhibit ERK phosphorylation in AR cells was restored by treatment with a BRAF inhibitor at low concentrations that reduced the abundance of phosphorylated MEK to amounts observed in parental cells. Combined MEK and BRAF inhibition fully overcame resistance to MEK or BRAF inhibitors alone and was also more effective in parental cells compared to treatment with either inhibitor alone. These findings implicate BRAF amplification as a mechanism of resistance to both MEK and BRAF inhibitors and suggest combined MEK and BRAF inhibition as a clinical strategy to overcome, or possibly prevent, this mechanism of resistance.
doi:10.1126/scisignal.2001148
PMCID: PMC3372405  PMID: 21098728
20.  A Phase I study of the Heat Shock Protein 90 inhibitor alvespimycin (17-DMAG) given intravenously to patients with advanced solid tumors 
Purpose
A Phase I study to define toxicity and recommend a Phase II dose of the HSP90 inhibitor alvespimycin (17-DMAG; 17-dimethylaminoethylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin). Secondary endpoints included evaluation of pharmacokinetic profile, tumor response and definition of a biologically effective dose (BED).
Patients and Methods
Patients with advanced solid cancers were treated with weekly, intravenous (IV) 17-DMAG. An accelerated titration dose escalation design was used. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) was the highest dose at which ≤ 1/6 patients experienced dose limiting toxicity (DLT). Dose de-escalation from the MTD was planned with mandatory, sequential tumor biopsies to determine a BED. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic assays were validated prior to patient accrual.
Results
Twenty five patients received 17-DMAG (range 2.5 to 106 mg/m2). At 106mg/m2 of 17-DMAG 2/4 patients experienced DLT, including one treatment related death. No DLT occurred at 80mg/m2. Common adverse events were gastrointestinal, liver function changes and ocular. AUC and Cmax increased proportionally with 17-DMAG doses ≤ 80mg/m2. In peripheral blood mononuclear cells significant (p <0.05) HSP72 induction was detected (≥ 20mg/m2) and sustained for 96 hours (≥ 40mg/m2). Plasma HSP72 levels were greatest in the two patients who experienced DLT. At 80mg/m2 client protein (CDK4, LCK) depletion was detected and tumor samples from 3/5 patients confirmed HSP90 inhibition. Clinical activity included complete response (castration refractory prostate cancer, CRPC 124 weeks), partial response (melanoma, 159 weeks) and stable disease (chondrosarcoma, CRPC and renal cancer for 28, 59 and 76 weeks respectively).
Conclusion
The recommended Phase II dose of 17-DMAG is 80mg/m2 weekly, IV.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-1927
PMCID: PMC3060938  PMID: 21278242
21.  Activation of FOXO3a Is Sufficient to Reverse Mitogen-Activated Protein/Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase Kinase Inhibitor Chemoresistance in Human Cancer 
Cancer research  2010;70(11):4709-4718.
Drug resistance is a central challenge of cancer therapy that ultimately leads to treatment failure. In this study, we characterized a mechanism of drug resistance that arises to AZD6244, an established mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK) 1/2 inhibitor currently being evaluated in cancer clinical trials. AZD6244 enhanced the expression of transcription factor FOXO3a, which suppressed cancer cell proliferation. In AZD6244-resistant cancer cells, we observed the impaired nuclear localization of FOXO3a, reduced FOXO3a-mediated transcriptional activity, and decreased the expression of FOXO3a target gene Bim after cell treatment with AZD6244. Resistant cells could be sensitized by phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT inhibitors, which are known to enhance FOXO3a nuclear translocation. Our findings define FOXO3a as candidate marker to predict the clinical efficacy of AZD6244. Furthermore, they suggest a mechanism of resistance to MEK inhibitors that may arise in the clinic yet can be overcome by cotreatment with PI3K/AKT inhibitors.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-4524
PMCID: PMC2895805  PMID: 20484037
22.  Phase I, Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Study of SJG-136, a Novel DNA Sequence Selective Minor Groove Cross-Linking Agent, in advanced solid tumors 
Purpose
This phase I study assessed the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) of SJG-136, a sequence-specific DNA cross-linking agent, in patients with advanced cancer.
Experimental Design
In Schedule A, seven patients received escalating doses of SJG-136 (6, 12, 24, and 48 µg/m2) daily for 5 of 21 days. Blood samples were collected for PK analysis on Days 1 and 5 of Cycle 1. In Schedule B, SJG-136 was given daily for 3 of 21 days (N=17; doses 20, 25, 30, and 35 µg/m2). Blood samples were collected on Days 1 and 3 of Cycles 1 and 2 for PK and PD analysis. Patients in Schedule B received dexamethasone and early diuretic care.
Results
Schedule A: dose-limiting toxicities included Grade 3 edema, dyspnea, fatigue, and delayed liver toxicity (Grade 3/4). PK analysis revealed dose-dependent increases in AUC and Cmax. Substantial changes in volume of distribution at steady-state (Vss) occurred after repeated dosing in some patients prior to the onset of edema. Schedule B: the same toxicities were manageable with steroid premedication and diuretic support. No significant myelosuppression occurred on either schedule. DNA interstrand cross-links correlated with systemic exposure of SJG-136 following the second dose in Cycle 1 and were still detectable immediately before Cycle 2.
Conclusions
The MTD of SJG-136 in this study was 30 µg/m2 administered on a daily × 3 basis with no myelosuppression effects. Coupled with supportive management, SJG-136 is now advancing to a Phase II trial in ovarian cancer.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-2056
PMCID: PMC3107910  PMID: 21346148
SJG-136; clinical trial; cancer; Phase I; pharmacokinetics; pharmacodynamics
23.  First-in-Human Phase I Trial of Two Schedules of OSI-930, a Novel Multikinase Inhibitor, Incorporating Translational Proof-of-Mechanism Studies 
Purpose
OSI-930 is a novel, potent, oral small-molecule receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, predominantly against VEGF receptors (VEGFR), c-Kit, and platelet-derived growth factor receptors. A phase I trial was undertaken to determine safety, maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and antitumor activity of OSI-930 in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Experimental Design
OSI-930 was administered once or twice a day using a modified accelerated titration design. Pharmacokinetics and plasma soluble VEGFR2 (sVEGFR2) studies were undertaken. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) and 2[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) MTD expansion cohorts were conducted.
Results
Fifty-eight patients received OSI-930 in 2 schedules; once a day schedule: 12 patients at doses up to 1,600 mg without reaching MTD; twice a day schedule: 46 patients at 400 mg (n = 7), 500 mg (n = 31), and 600 mg (n =8). Dose-limiting toxicities were observed at 600 mg twice a day (n =3): G3 rash (n =2) and G4 γ-glutamyltransferase, establishing the MTD at 500 mg twice a day. Common G1–2 toxicities included fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and rash. Antitumor responses were seen in 2 patients with advanced ovarian cancer [Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) partial response (PR) (n = 1); GCIG CA125 response (n = 1)]. Eleven of 19 heavily pretreated imatinib-resistant patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors achieved RECIST stable disease (median duration: 126 days), with FDG-PET scans showing PRs in 4 of 9 patients. OSI-930 exposure increased with dose; substantial decreases in sVEGFR levels were observed with OSI-930 twice a day doses ≥400 mg, while DCE-MRI responses were shown in 4 of 6 patients.
Conclusions
OSI-930 is safe and well tolerated, with pharmacokinetic–pharmacodynamic data supporting proof-of-mechanism with clinically relevant antitumor activity.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-2258
PMCID: PMC3880798  PMID: 23403628
24.  A phase I study to determine the safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of a dual VEGFR and FGFR inhibitor, brivanib, in patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors 
Annals of Oncology  2010;22(6):1413-1419.
Background: This study was designed to determine the safety, pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) of brivanib in patients with advanced/metastatic solid tumors.
Patients and methods: Ninety patients enrolled in this two-part, phase I open-label study of oral brivanib alaninate. The primary objectives of this study were (in part A) dose-limiting toxicity, maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and the lowest biologically active dose level and (in part B) the optimal dose/dose range. The secondary objectives of this study were preliminary evidence of antitumor activity, PK and PD.
Results: Across part A (open-label dose escalation and MTD) and part B (open-label dose optimization), 68 patients received brivanib alaninate. Brivanib demonstrated a manageable toxicity profile at doses of 180–800 mg. Most toxic effects were mild. Systemic exposure of the active moiety brivanib increased linearly ≤1000 mg/day. The MTD was 800 mg/day. Forty-four patients were treated at the MTD: 20 with 800 mg continuously, 11 with 800 mg intermittently and 13 with 400 mg b.i.d. doses. Partial responses were confirmed in two patients receiving brivanib ≥600 mg. Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated statistically significant decreases in parameters reflecting tumor vascularity and permeability after multiple doses in the 800-mg continuous q.d. and 400-mg b.i.d. dose cohorts.
Conclusion: In patients with advanced/metastatic cancer, brivanib demonstrates promising antiangiogenic and antitumor activity and manageable toxicity at doses ≤800 mg orally q.d., the recommended phase II study dose.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mdq599
PMCID: PMC3139984  PMID: 21131369
antiangiogenesis; brivanib; fibroblast growth factor; vascular endothelial growth factor
25.  Combination of MEK and SRC inhibition suppresses melanoma cell growth and invasion 
Oncogene  2012;32(1):86-96.
The RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK pathway is deregulated in over 90% of malignant melanomas and targeting MEK as central kinase of this pathway is currently tested in clinical trials. However, dose-limiting side effects are observed, and MEK inhibitors that sufficiently reduce ERK activation in patients show a low clinical response. Apart from dose-limitations, a reason for the low response to MEK targeting drugs is thought to be the up-regulation of counteracting signalling cascades as a direct response to MEK inhibition. Therefore, understanding the biology of melanoma cells and the effects of MEK inhibition on these cells will help to identify new combinatorial approaches that are more potent and allow for lower concentrations of drug being used. We have discovered that in melanoma cells MEK inhibition by selumetinib (AZD6244, ARRY-142886) or PD184352 while efficiently suppressing proliferation stimulates increased invasiveness. Inhibition of MEK suppresses actin-cortex contraction and increases integrin-mediated adhesion. Most importantly, and surprisingly MEK inhibition results in a significant increase in MMP-2 and MT1-MMP expression. All together MEK inhibition in melanoma cells induces a ‘mesenchymal’ phenotype that is characterised by protease driven invasion. This mode of invasion is dependent on integrin-mediated adhesion, and because SRC kinases are main regulators of this process, the SRC kinase inhibitor saracatinib (AZD0530) completely abolished the MEK inhibitor induced invasion. Moreover, the combination of saracatinib and selumetinib effectively suppressed the growth and invasion of melanoma cells in a 3D environment, suggesting that combined inhibition of MEK and SRC is a promising approach to improve the efficacy of targeting the ERK/MAP kinase pathway in melanoma.
doi:10.1038/onc.2012.25
PMCID: PMC3378628  PMID: 22310287
melanoma; MEK; SRC; MMP-2; invasion; combination therapy

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