A novel BH3-mimetic, AZD0466, targeting BCL-XL and BCL-2 is effective in pre-clinical models of malignant pleural mesothelioma

Cell Death Discovery 2021 May 28 [Link]

Surein Arulananda, Megan O’Brien, Marco Evangelista, Laura J Jenkins, Ashleigh R Poh, Marzena Walkiewicz, Trishe Leong, John M Mariadason, Jonathan Cebon, Srividya B Balachander, Justin R Cidado, Erinna F Lee, Thomas John, Walter D Fairlie


Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive cancer with treatment limited to Cisplatin and Pemetrexed chemotherapy. Recently, we showed that drugs targeting the BCL-2-regulated apoptosis pathway could kill MPM cell lines in vitro, and control tumor growth in vivo. These studies showed BCL-XL was the dominant pro-survival BCL-2 family member correlating with its high-level expression in cells and patient tumor samples. In this study we show another inhibitor, AZD4320 that targets BCL-XL (and BCL-2), can also potently kill MPM tumor cells in vitro (EC50 values in the 200 nM range) and this effect is enhanced by co-inhibition of MCL-1 using AZD5991. Moreover, we show that a novel nanoparticle, AZD0466, where AZD4320 is chemically conjugated to a PEGylated poly-lysine dendrimer, was as effective as standard-of-care chemotherapy, Cisplatin, at inhibiting tumor growth in mouse xenograft studies, and this effect was enhanced when both drugs were combined. Critically, the degree of thrombocytopenia, an on-target toxicity associated with BCL-XL inhibition, was significantly reduced throughout the treatment period compared to other BCL-XL-targeting BH3-mimetics. These pre-clinical findings provide a rationale for the future clinical evaluation for novel BH3-mimetic formulations in MPM, and indeed, other solid tumor types dependent on BCL-XL.