Drug-repositioning screening identified fludarabine and risedronic acid as potential therapeutic compounds for malignant pleural mesothelioma

Investigational New Drugs 2020 December 9 [Link]

Irene Dell’Anno, Sarah A Martin, Marcella Barbarino, Alessandra Melani, Roberto Silvestri, Maria Bottaro, Elisa Paolicchi, Alda Corrado, Monica Cipollini, Ombretta Melaiu, Antonio Giordano, Luca Luzzi, Federica Gemignani, Stefano Landi


Objectives Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an occupational disease mainly due to asbestos exposure. Effective therapies for MPM are lacking, making this tumour type a fatal disease. Materials and Methods In order to meet this need and in view of a future “drug repositioning” approach, here we screened five MPM (Mero-14, Mero-25, IST-Mes2, NCI-H28 and MSTO-211H) and one SV40-immortalized mesothelial cell line (MeT-5A) as a non-malignant model, with a library of 1170 FDA-approved drugs. Results Among several potential compounds, we found that fludarabine (F-araA) and, to a lesser extent, risedronic acid (RIS) were cytotoxic in MPM cells, in comparison to the non-malignant Met-5A cells. In particular, F-araA reduced the proliferation and the colony formation ability of the MPM malignant cells, in comparison to the non-malignant control cells, as demonstrated by proliferation and colony formation assays, in addition to measurement of the phospho-ERK/total-ERK ratio. We have shown that the response to F-araA was not dependent upon the expression of DCK and NT5E enzymes, nor upon their functional polymorphisms (rs11544786 and rs2295890, respectively). Conclusion This drug repositioning screening approach has identified that F-araA could be therapeutically active against MPM cells, in addition to other tumour types, by inhibiting STAT1 expression and nucleic acids synthesis. Further experiments are required to fully investigate this.