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author:("polar, Klaus")
1.  Preclinical efficacy of sepantronium bromide (YM155) in multiple myeloma is conferred by down regulation of Mcl-1 
Oncotarget  2014;5(21):10237-10250.
The inhibitor-of-apoptosis family member survivin has been reported to inhibit apoptosis and regulate mitosis and cytokinesis. In multiple myeloma, survivin has been described to be involved in downstream sequelae of various therapeutic agents. We assessed 1093 samples from previously untreated patients, including two independent cohorts of 392 and 701 patients, respectively. Survivin expression was associated with cell proliferation, adverse prognostic markers, and inferior event-free and overall survival, supporting the evaluation of survivin as a therapeutic target in myeloma. The small molecule suppressant of survivin - YM155 - is in clinical development for the treatment of solid tumors. YM155 potently inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis in primary myeloma cells and cell lines. Gene expression and protein profiling revealed the critical roles of IL6/STAT3-signaling and the unfolded protein response in the efficacy of YM155. Both pathways converged to down regulate anti-apoptotic Mcl-1 in myeloma cells. Conversely, growth inhibition and apoptotic cell death by YM155 was rescued by ectopic expression of Mcl-1 but not survivin, identifying Mcl-1 as the pivotal downstream target of YM155 in multiple myeloma. Mcl-1 expression was likewise associated with adverse prognostic markers, and inferior survival. Our results strongly support the clinical evaluation of YM155 in patients with multiple myeloma.
PMCID: PMC4279369  PMID: 25296978
apoptotic signaling; Mcl-1; multiple myeloma; survivin
2.  Blockade of the MEK/ERK signaling cascade by AS703026, a novel selective MEK1/2 inhibitor, induces pleiotropic anti-myeloma activity in vitro and in vivo 
British journal of haematology  2010;149(4):537-549.
We investigate cytotoxicity and mechanism of action of AS703026, a novel, selective, orally bioavailable MEK1/2 inhibitor, in human multiple myeloma (MM). AS703026, more potently (9-10 fold) than AZD6244, inhibited growth and survival of MM cells and cytokine-induced osteoclast differentiation. Inhibition of proliferation induced by AS703026 was mediated by G0-G1 cell cycle arrest and was accompanied by reduction of c-maf oncogene expression. AS703026 further induced apoptosis via caspase 3 and PARP cleavage in MM cells, both in the presence or absence of bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs). Importantly, AS703026 sensitized MM cells to a broad spectrum of conventional (dexamethasone, melphalan), novel or emerging (lenalidomide, perifosine, bortezomib, rapamycin) anti-MM therapies. Significant tumor growth reduction in AS703026- vs. vehicle-treated mice bearing H929 MM xenograft tumors correlated with downregulated pERK1/2, induced PARP cleavage, and decreased microvessels in vivo. Moreover, AS703026 (<200 nM) was cytotoxic against the majority of tumor cells tested from patients with relapsed and refractory MM (84%), regardless of mutational status of RAS and BRAF genes. Importantly, BMSC-induced viability of MM patient cells was similarly blocked within the same dose range. Our results therefore support clinical evaluation of AS703026, alone or in combination with other anti-MM agents, to improve patient outcome.
PMCID: PMC3418597  PMID: 20331454
multiple myeloma (MM); MEK1/2 inhibitor; bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs); novel kinase inhibitor therapy
3.  Janus kinase inhibitor INCB20 has antiproliferative and apoptotic effects on human myeloma cells in vitro and in vivo 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2009;8(1):26-35.
Protein tyrosine kinases of the Janus kinase (JAK) family are associated with many cytokine receptors, which, on ligand binding, regulate important cellular functions such as proliferation, survival, and differentiation. In multiple myeloma, JAKs may be persistently activated due to a constant stimulation by interleukin (IL)-6, which is produced in the bone marrow environment. INCB20 is a synthetic molecule that potently inhibits all members of the JAK family with a 100- to 1,000-fold selectivity for JAKs over >70 other kinases. Treatment of multiple myeloma cell lines and patient tumor cells with INCB20 resulted in a significant and dose-dependent inhibition of spontaneous as well as IL-6-induced cell growth. Importantly, multiple myeloma cell growth was inhibited in the presence of bone marrow stromal cells. The IL-6 dependent cell line INA-6 was particularly sensitive to the drug (IC50 < 1 μmol/L). Growth suppression of INA-6 correlated with an increase in the percentage of apoptotic cells and inhibition of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 phosphorylation. INCB20 also abrogated the protective effect of IL-6 against dexamethasone by blocking phosphorylation of SHP-2 and AKT. In contrast, AKT phosphorylation induced by insulin-like growth factor-I remained unchanged, showing selectivity of the compound. In a s.c. severe combined immunodeficient mouse model with INA-6, INCB20 significantly delayed INA-6 tumor growth. Our studies show that disruption of JAKs and downstream signaling pathways may both inhibit multiple myeloma cell growth and survival and overcome cytokine-mediated drug resistance, thereby providing the preclinical rationale for the use of JAK inhibitors as a novel therapeutic approach in multiple myeloma.
PMCID: PMC3418602  PMID: 19139110
4.  Emerging therapies for multiple myeloma 
Expert opinion on emerging drugs  2009;14(1):99-127.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a clonal plasma cell malignancy clinically characterized by osteolytic lesions, immunodeficiency, and renal disease. There are an estimated 750,000 people diagnosed with MM worldwide, with a median overall survival of 3 – 5 years. Besides chromosomal aberrations, translocations, and mutations in essential growth and tumor-suppressor genes, accumulating data strongly highlight the pathophysiologic role of the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment in MM pathogenesis. Based on this knowledge, several novel agents have been identified, and treatment options in MM have fundamentally changed during the last decade. Thalidomide, bortezomib, and lenalidomide have been incorporated into conventional cytotoxic and transplantation regimens, first in relapsed and refractory and now also in newly diagnosed MM. Despite these significant advances, there remains an urgent need for more efficacious and tolerable drugs. Indeed, a plethora of preclinical agents awaits translation from the bench to the bedside. This article reviews the scientific rationale of new therapy regimens and newly identified therapeutic agents – small molecules as well as therapeutic antibodies – that hold promise to further improve outcome in MM.
PMCID: PMC3183751  PMID: 19249983
bone marrow microenvironment; combination therapy; multiple myeloma
5.  Targeting the Tumor Microenvironment: Focus on Angiogenesis 
Journal of Oncology  2011;2012:281261.
Tumorigenesis is a complex multistep process involving not only genetic and epigenetic changes in the tumor cell but also selective supportive conditions of the deregulated tumor microenvironment. One key compartment of the microenvironment is the vascular niche. The role of angiogenesis in solid tumors but also in hematologic malignancies is now well established. Research on angiogenesis in general, and vascular endothelial growth factor in particular, is a major focus in biomedicine and has led to the clinical approval of several antiangiogenic agents including thalidomide, bevacizumab, sorafenib, sunitinib, pazopanib, temesirolimus, and everolimus. Indeed, antiangiogenic agents have significantly changed treatment strategies in solid tumors (colorectal cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and breast cancer) and multiple myeloma. Here we illustrate important aspects in the interrelationship between tumor cells and the microenvironment leading to tumor progression, with focus on angiogenesis, and summarize derived targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3163131  PMID: 21876693
6.  A therapeutic role for targeting c-Myc/Hif-1-dependent signaling pathways 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2010;9(9):1722-1728.
Deregulated c-Myc occurs in ~30% of human cancers. Similarly, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) is commonly overexpressed in a variety of human malignancies. Under physiologic conditions, HIF inhibits c-Myc activity; however, when deregulated oncogenic c-Myc collaborates with HIF in inducing the expression of VEGF, PDK1 and hexokinase 2. Most of the knowledge of HIF derives from studies investigating a role of HIF under hypoxic conditions, however, HIF-1α stabilization is also found in normoxic conditions. Specifically, under hypoxic conditions HIF-1-mediated regulation of oncogenic c-Myc plays a pivotal role in conferring metabolic advantages to tumor cells as well as adaptation to the tumorigenic micromilieu. In addition, our own results show that under normoxic conditions oncogenic c-Myc is required for constitutive high HIF-1 protein levels and activity in Multiple Myeloma (MM) cells, thereby influencing VEGF secretion and angiogenic activity within the bone marrow microenvironment. Further studies are needed to delineate the functional relevance of HIF, MYC, and the HIF-MYC collaboration in MM and other malignancies, also integrating the tumor microenvironment and the cellular context. Importantly, early studies already demonstrate promising preclinical of novel agents, predominantly small molecules, which target c-Myc, HIF or both.
PMCID: PMC3155944  PMID: 20404562
HIF; c-Myc; targeted therapy; tumor microenvironment
7.  Effects of PKC412, nilotinib and imatinib against GIST-associated PDGFRA mutants with differential imatinib sensitivity 
Gastroenterology  2006;131(6):1734-1742.
Background & Aims
Activating mutations in platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRA) have been reported in a subset of gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) patients who do not express mutant stem cell factor receptor, c-KIT. The responsiveness of mutant PDGFRA-positive GIST to imatinib depends on the location of the PDGFRA mutation; for example, the V561D juxtamembrane domain mutation is more sensitive to imatinib than the D842V kinase domain mutation. In this study, we compare the effects of three tyrosine kinase inhibitors, PKC412 and nilotinib, and imatinib, on two GIST-related PDGFRA mutants, V561D and D842V, which possess differential sensitivity to imatinib.
The effects of PKC412, nilotinib, and imatinib, alone and in combination, were evaluated via in vitro proliferation studies performed with V561D- or D842V-PDGFRA mutants. The effects of nilotinib and PKC412, alone and combined, were investigated in vivo.
PKC412 potently inhibited the V561D-PDGFRA mutant in vitro and the D842V-PDGFRA mutant in vitro and in vivo. Both imatinib and nilotinib displayed potent activity in vitro against the V561D-PDGFRA mutant, but were significantly less efficacious against D842V-PDGFRA. However, when combined with either imatinib or PKC412, nilotinib showed no evidence for antagonism and acted in a cooperative fashion against D842V-PDGFRA.
Our findings support the clinical testing of PKC412 for treatment of mutant PDGFRA-GIST. The data also support the use of nilotinib as a treatment option for V561D-PDGFRA-associated GIST, although the reduced sensitivity of D842V-PDGFRA probably limits the potential of nilotinib monotherapy for D842V-PDGFRA-associated GIST.
PMCID: PMC2967439  PMID: 17087936
8.  Generation of Antitumor Invariant NKT Cell Lines in Multiple Myeloma and Promotion of Their Functions via Lenalidomide: A Strategy for Immunotherapy 
CD1d-restricted invariant NKT (iNKT) cells are important immunoregulatory cells in antitumor immune responses. However, the quantitative and qualitative defects of iNKT cells in advanced multiple myeloma (MM) hampered their antitumor effects. Therefore, the development of functional iNKT cells may provide a novel strategy for the immunotherapy in MM treatment.
Experimental Design
We activated and expanded iNKT cells from MM patients with α-galactosylceramide(α-GalCer)-pulsed-dendritic cells (DCs), characterized their antitumor effects by the cytokine production profile and cytotoxicity against MM cells, and explored the effects of immunomodulatory drug lenalidomide on these iNKT cells. We also investigated the expression of CD1d by primary MM cells and its function to activate iNKT cells.
We established highly purified functional iNKT cell lines from newly diagnosed and advanced MM patients. These CD1d-restricted iNKT cell lines produced high level of antitumor Th1 cytokine in response to α-GalCer-pulsed-primary MM cells, CD1d-transfected MM1S cell line or DCs. Moreover, MM iNKT cell lines displayed strong cytotoxicity against α-GalCer-pulsed-primary MM cells. Importantly, lenalidomide further augmented the Th1-polarization by iNKT cell lines via the increased Th1 cytokine production and the reduced Th2 cytokine production. We also demonstrated that CD1d was expressed in primary MM cells at mRNA and protein levels from the majority of MM patients, but not in normal plasma cells and MM cell lines, and CD1d+ primary MM cells presented antigens to activate iNKT cell lines.
Taken together, our results provide the pre-clinical evidence for the iNKT cells-mediated immunotherapy and a rationale for their use in combination with lenalidomide in MM treatment.
PMCID: PMC2967459  PMID: 18980990
iNKT cells; multiple myeloma; lenalidomide; immunotherapy
9.  Functional Interaction of Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells with Multiple Myeloma Cells: A Novel Therapeutic Target 
Cancer cell  2009;16(4):309-323.
Multiple Myeloma (MM) remains incurable despite novel therapies, suggesting the need for further identification of factors mediating tumorigenesis and drug resistance. Using both in vitro and in vivo MM xenograft models, we show that plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) in the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment both mediate immune deficiency characteristic of MM and promote MM cell growth, survival, and drug resistance. Microarray, cell signaling, cytokine profile and immunohistochemical analysis delineate the mechanisms mediating these sequelae. Although pDCs are resistant to novel therapies, targeting Toll-like Receptors with CpG ODNs both restores pDC immune function and abrogates pDC-induced MM cell growth. Our study therefore validates targeting pDC-MM interactions as a therapeutic strategy to overcome drug resistance in MM.
PMCID: PMC2762396  PMID: 19800576

Results 1-9 (9)