Previous findings showed that in mice, complete knockout of activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) abolishes brain formation, while haploinsufficiency (Adnp+/–) causes cognitive impairments. We hypothesized that mutations in ADNP lead to a developmental/autistic syndrome in children. Indeed, recent phenotypic characterization of children harboring ADNP mutations (ADNP syndrome children) revealed global developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, including speech and motor dysfunctions. Mechanistically, ADNP includes a SIP motif embedded in the ADNP-derived snippet, drug candidate NAP (NAPVSIPQ also known as CP201), which binds to microtubule end binding protein 3, essential for dendritic spine formation. Here, we established a unique neuronal membrane tagged green fluorescent protein expressing Adnp+/– mouse line allowing in vivo synaptic pathology quantification. We discovered that Adnp deficiency reduced dendritic spine density and altered synaptic gene expression, both of which were partly ameliorated by NAP treatment. Adnp+/– mice further exhibited global developmental delays, vocalization impediments, gait/motor dysfunctions and social/object memory impairments, all partially reversed by daily NAP administration (systemic/nasal). In conclusion, we now connected ADNP-related synaptic pathology to developmental/behavioral outcomes, establishing NAP in vivo target engagement and identifying potential biomarkers. Together, these studies pave the path toward clinical development of NAP (CP201) in the ADNP syndrome.
Gal Hacohen-Kleiman, Shlomo Sragovich, Gidon Karmon, Andy Y. L. Gao, Iris Grigg, Metsada Pasmanik-Chor, Albert Le, Vlasta Korenková, R. Anne McKinney, Illana Gozes
BACKGROUND. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), plasma exchange and immunoadsorption are frequently used in the management of severe autoimmune diseases mediated by pathogenic IgG autoantibodies. These approaches to modulate IgG levels can however be associated with some severe adverse reactions and significant burden to patients. Targeting the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) presents an innovative and potentially more effective, safer, and convenient alternative for clearing pathogenic IgGs. METHODS. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled first-in-human study was conducted in 62 healthy volunteers to explore single and multiple ascending intravenous doses of the FcRn antagonist efgartigimod. The study objectives were to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and immunogenicity. The findings of this study were compared with the pharmacodynamics profile elicited by efgartigimod in cynomolgus monkeys. RESULTS. Efgartigimod treatment resulted in a rapid and specific clearance of serum IgG levels in both cynomolgus monkeys and healthy volunteers. In humans, single administration of efgartigimod reduced IgG levels up to 50% whilst multiple dosing further lowered IgGs on average by 75% of baseline levels. Approximately 8 weeks following the last administration, IgG levels returned to baseline. Efgartigimod did not alter the homeostasis of albumin or immunoglobulins other than IgG and no serious adverse events related to efgartigimod infusion were observed. CONCLUSION. Antagonizing FcRn using efgartigimod is safe and results in a specific, profound, and sustained reduction of serum IgG levels. These results warrant further evaluation of this therapeutic approach in IgG-driven autoimmune diseases. TRIAL REGISTRATION. Clinicaltrials.gov NCT03457649. FUNDING. argenx bvba.
Peter Ulrichts, Antonio Guglietta, Torsten Dreier, Tonke van Bragt, Valérie Hanssens, Erik Hofman, Bernhardt Vankerckhoven, Peter Verheesen, Nicolas Ongenae, Valentina Lykhopiy, F. Javier Enriquez, JunHaeng Cho, Raimund J. Ober, E. Sally Ward, Hans de Haard, Nicolas Leupin
Oxidative stress is an underlying component of acute and chronic kidney disease. Apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) is a widely expressed redox-sensitive serine threonine kinase that activates p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases, and induces apoptotic, inflammatory, and fibrotic signaling in settings of oxidative stress. Herein, we describe the discovery and characterization of a potent and selective small molecule inhibitor of ASK1, GS-444217, and demonstrate the therapeutic potential of ASK1 inhibition to reduce kidney injury and fibrosis. Activation of the ASK1 pathway in glomerular and tubular compartments was confirmed in renal biopsies from patients with diabetic kidney disease (DKD) and was decreased by GS-444217 in several rodent models of kidney injury and fibrosis that collectively represented the hallmarks of DKD pathology. Treatment with GS-444217 reduced progressive inflammation and fibrosis in the kidney and halted decline of glomerular filtration rate. Combination of GS-444217 with enalapril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, led to a greater reduction in proteinuria and regression of glomerulosclerosis. These results identify ASK1 as an important target for renal disease and support the clinical development of an ASK1 inhibitor for the treatment of diabetic kidney disease.
John T. Liles, Britton K. Corkey, Gregory T. Notte, Grant Budas, Eric B. Lansdon, Ford Hinojosa-Kirschenbaum, Shawn S. Badal, Michael Lee, Brian E. Schultz, Sarah Wise, Swetha Pendem, Michael Graupe, Laurie Castonguay, Keith A. Koch, Melanie H. Wong, Giuseppe A. Papalia, Dorothy M. French, Theodore Sullivan, Erik G. Huntzicker, Frank Y. Ma, David J. Nikolic-Paterson, Tareq Altuhaifi, Haichun Yang, Agnes B. Fogo, David G. Breckenridge
The MALT1 paracaspase plays an essential role in Activated B-cell like Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma (ABC DLBCL) downstream of B cell and Toll-like receptor pathway genes mutated in these tumors. Although MALT1 is considered to be a compelling therapeutic target, development of tractable and specific MALT1 protease inhibitors has thus far been elusive. Herein, we developed a target engagement assay that provides a quantitative readout for specific MALT1 inhibitory effects in living cells. This enabled a structure-guided medicinal chemistry effort culminating in the discovery of pharmacologically tractable irreversible substrate-mimetic compounds that bind the MALT1 active site. We confirmed MALT1 targeting with compound #3 is effective at suppressing ABC DLBCL cells in vitro and in vivo. We show that reduction in serum IL10 levels exquisitely correlates with drug PK and degree of MALT1 inhibition in vitro and in vivo and could constitute a useful pharmacodynamic biomarker to evaluate these compounds in clinical trials. Compound #3 revealed insights into the biology of MALT1 in ABC DLBCL, such as driving JAK-STAT signaling and suppressing type I interferon (IFN) response and MHC class II expression, suggesting that MALT1 inhibition could prime lymphomas for immune recognition by cytotoxic immune cells.
Lorena Fontán, Qi Qiao, John M. Hatcher, Gabriella Casalena, Ilkay Us, Matt Teater, Matthew Durant, Guangyan Du, Min Xia, Natalia Bilchuk, Spandan Chennamadhavuni, Giuseppe Palladino, Giorgio Inghirami, Ulrike Philippar, Hao Wu, David A. Scott, Nathanael S. Gray, Ari Melnick
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) are responsible for 20% of familial ALS. Given the gain of toxic function in this dominantly inherited disease, lowering SOD1 mRNA and protein is predicted to provide therapeutic benefit. An early generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) targeting SOD1 was identified and tested in a phase I human clinical trial, based on modest protection in animal models of SOD1 ALS. Although the clinical trial provided encouraging safety data, the drug was not advanced because there was progress in designing other, more potent ASOs for CNS application. We have developed next-generation SOD1 ASOs that more potently reduce SOD1 mRNA and protein and extend survival by more than 50 days in SOD1G93A rats and by almost 40 days in SOD1G93A mice. We demonstrated that the initial loss of compound muscle action potential in SOD1G93A mice is reversed after a single dose of SOD1 ASO. Furthermore, increases in serum phospho-neurofilament heavy chain levels, a promising biomarker for ALS, are stopped by SOD1 ASO therapy. These results define a highly potent, new SOD1 ASO ready for human clinical trial and suggest that at least some components of muscle response can be reversed by therapy.
Alex McCampbell, Tracy Cole, Amy J. Wegener, Giulio S. Tomassy, Amy Setnicka, Brandon J. Farley, Kathleen M. Schoch, Mariah L. Hoye, Mark Shabsovich, Linhong Sun, Yi Luo, Mingdi Zhang, Sai Thankamony, David W. Salzman, Merit Cudkowicz, Danielle L. Graham, C. Frank Bennett, Holly B. Kordasiewicz, Eric E. Swayze, Timothy M. Miller
Cancer cell dependence on activated oncogenes is targeted therapeutically, but acquired resistance is virtually unavoidable. Here we show that the treatment of addicted melanoma cells with BRAF-inhibitors, and of breast cancer cells with HER2-targeted drugs, led to an adaptive rise in Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) expression, which is crucial for the onset of acquired resistance to therapy. Moreover, NRP1 levels dictated the efficacy of MET oncogene-inhibitors in addicted stomach and lung carcinoma cells. Mechanistically, NRP1 induced a JNK-dependent signaling cascade leading to the upregulation of alternative effector kinases, EGFR or IGF1R, which in turn sustained cancer cell growth and mediated acquired resistance to BRAF, HER2, or MET inhibitors. Notably, the combination with NRP1-interfering molecules improved the efficacy of oncogene-targeted drugs, and prevented, or even reversed, the onset of resistance in cancer cells and tumor models. Our study provides the rationale for targeting the NRP1-dependent upregulation of tyrosine kinases, responsible for loss of responsiveness to oncogene-targeted therapies.
Sabrina Rizzolio, Gabriella Cagnoni, Chiara Battistini, Stefano Bonelli, Claudio Isella, Jo A. Van Ginderachter, René Bernards, Federica Di Nicolantonio, Silvia Giordano, Luca Tamagnone
Although nonmalignant stromal cells facilitate tumor growth and can occupy up to 90% of a solid tumor mass, better strategies to exploit these cells for improved cancer therapy are needed. Here, we describe a potent MMAE-linked antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) targeting tumor endothelial marker 8 (TEM8, also known as ANTXR1), a highly conserved transmembrane receptor broadly overexpressed on cancer-associated fibroblasts, endothelium, and pericytes. Anti-TEM8 ADC elicited potent anticancer activity through an unexpected killing mechanism we term DAaRTS (drug activation and release through stroma), whereby the tumor microenvironment localizes active drug at the tumor site. Following capture of ADC prodrug from the circulation, tumor-associated stromal cells release active MMAE free drug, killing nearby proliferating tumor cells in a target-independent manner. In preclinical studies, ADC treatment was well tolerated and induced regression and often eradication of multiple solid tumor types, blocked metastatic growth, and prolonged overall survival. By exploiting TEM8+ tumor stroma for targeted drug activation, these studies reveal a drug delivery strategy with potential to augment therapies against multiple cancer types.
Christopher Szot, Saurabh Saha, Xiaoyan M. Zhang, Zhongyu Zhu, Mary Beth Hilton, Karen Morris, Steven Seaman, James M. Dunleavey, Kuo-Sheng Hsu, Guo-Jun Yu, Holly Morris, Deborah A. Swing, Diana C. Haines, Yanping Wang, Jennifer Hwang, Yang Feng, Dean Welsch, Gary DeCrescenzo, Amit Chaudhary, Enrique Zudaire, Dimiter S. Dimitrov, Brad St. Croix
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a heterogeneous disease with poor prognosis that lacks targeted therapies, especially in patients with chemotherapy-resistant disease. Since DNA methylation-induced silencing of tumor suppressors is common in cancer, reversal of promoter DNA hypermethylation by 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (decitabine), an FDA-approved DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitor, has proven effective in treating hematological neoplasms. However, its antitumor effect varies in solid tumors, stressing the importance of identifying biomarkers predictive of therapeutic response. Here, we focused on the identification of biomarkers to select decitabine-sensitive TNBC through increasing our understanding of the mechanism of decitabine action. We showed that protein levels of DNMTs correlated with response to decitabine in patient-derived xenograft (PDX) organoids originating from chemotherapy-sensitive and -resistant TNBCs, suggesting DNMT levels as potential biomarkers of response. Furthermore, all 3 methytransferases, DNMT1, DNMT3A, and DNMT3B, were degraded following low-concentration, long-term decitabine treatment both in vitro and in vivo. The DNMT proteins could be ubiquitinated by the E3 ligase, TNF receptor–associated factor 6 (TRAF6), leading to lysosome-dependent protein degradation. Depletion of TRAF6 blocked decitabine-induced DNMT degradation, conferring resistance to decitabine. Our study suggests a potential mechanism of regulating DNMT protein degradation and DNMT levels as response biomarkers for DNMT inhibitors in TNBCs.
Jia Yu, Bo Qin, Ann M. Moyer, Somaira Nowsheen, Tongzheng Liu, Sisi Qin, Yongxian Zhuang, Duan Liu, Shijia W. Lu, Krishna R. Kalari, Daniel W. Visscher, John A. Copland, Sarah A. McLaughlin, Alvaro Moreno-Aspitia, Donald W. Northfelt, Richard J. Gray, Zhenkun Lou, Vera J. Suman, Richard Weinshilboum, Judy C. Boughey, Matthew P. Goetz, Liewei Wang
Synthetic lethality-based strategy has been developed to identify therapeutic targets in cancer harboring tumor suppressor gene mutations, as exemplified by the effectiveness of PARP inhibitors in BRCA1/2-mutated tumors. However, many synthetic lethal interactors are less reliable due to the fact that such genes usually do not perform fundamental or indispensable functions in the cell. Here we developed an approach to identify the “essential lethality” arose from these mutated/deleted essential genes, which are largely tolerated in cancer cells due to genetic redundancy. We uncovered the cohesion subunit SA1 as a putative synthetic-essential target in cancers carrying inactivating mutations of its paralog, SA2. In SA2-deficient Ewing sarcoma and bladder cancer, further depletion of SA1 profoundly and specifically suppressed cancer cell proliferation, survival and tumorigenic potential. Mechanistically, inhibition of SA1 in the SA2-mutated cells led to premature chromatid separation, dramatic extension of mitotic duration, and consequently lethal failure of cell division. More importantly, depletion of SA1 rendered those SA2-mutated cells more susceptible to DNA damage, especially double-strand breaks (DSBs), due to reduced functionality of DNA repair. Furthermore, inhibition of SA1 sensitized the SA2-deficient cancer cells to PARP inhibitors in vitro and in vivo, providing a potential therapeutic strategy for patients with SA2-deficient tumors.
Yunhua Liu, Hanchen Xu, Kevin Van der Jeught, Yujing Li, Sheng Liu, Lu Zhang, Yuanzhang Fang, Xinna Zhang, Milan Rodovich, Bryan P. Schneider, Xiaoming He, Cheng Huang, Chi Zhang, Jun Wan, Guang Ji, Xiongbin Lu
BACKGROUND. Monogenic Interferon (IFN)-mediated autoinflammatory diseases present in infancy with systemic inflammation, an IFN-response-gene-signature (IRS), inflammatory organ damage and high mortality. We used the janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor baricitinib with IFN-blocking activity in vitro, to ameliorate disease. METHODS. Between October 2011 and February 2017, 10 patients with CANDLE (chronic atypical neutrophilic dermatosis with lipodystrophy and elevated temperatures), 4 with SAVI (Stimulator of IFN genes (STING)-associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy), and 4 patients with other interferonopathies were enrolled in an Expanded Access Program. Patients underwent dose-escalation, benefit was assessed by reductions in daily disease symptoms and corticosteroid requirement. Quality-of-life, organ inflammation, changes in IFN-induced biomarkers, and safety were longitudinally assessed. RESULTS. 18 patients were treated for a mean duration of 3.0 years (1.5–4.9 years). The median daily symptom score decreased from 1.3 (IQR 0.93–1.78) to 0.25 (IQR 0.1-0.63) (P < 0.0001). In 14 patients receiving steroids at baseline, daily prednisone doses decreased from 0.44 mg/kg/day (IQR 0.31–1.09) to 0.11 mg/kg/day (IQR 0.02–0.24) (P < 0.01); 5 of 10 CANDLE patients achieved lasting clinical remission. Quality of life, height and bone mineral density Z-scores significantly improved, and IFN biomarkers decreased. Three patients discontinued, two with genetically undefined conditions due to lack of efficacy, and one CANDLE patient due to BK viremia and azotemia. The most common adverse events were upper respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, BK viruria and viremia. CONCLUSION. On baricitinib treatment, clinical manifestations, inflammatory and IFN biomarkers improved in patients with the monogenic interferonopathies, CANDLE, SAVI and 2 other interferonopathies. Monitoring safety and efficacy is important in benefit-risk assessment. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01724580 and NCT02974595. FUNDING. NIH, NIAID, NIAMS, NIDDK, NHLBI, NINDS, and the Clinical Center. Baricitinib was provided by Eli Lilly. Eli Lilly is the sponsor of the compassionate use program.
Gina A. Montealegre Sanchez, Adam Reinhardt, Suzanne Ramsey, Helmut Wittkowski, Philip J. Hashkes, Yackov Berkun, Susanne Schalm, Sara Murias, Jason A. Dare, Diane Brown, Deborah L. Stone, Ling Gao, Thomas Klausmeier, Dirk Foell, Adriana A. de Jesus, Dawn C. Chapelle, Hanna Kim, Samantha Dill, Robert Colbert, Laura Failla, Bahar Kost, Michelle O'Brien, James C. Reynolds, Les R. Folio, Katherine R. Calvo, Scott M. Paul, Nargues Weir, Alessandra Brofferio, Ariane Soldatos, Angélique Biancotto, Edward W. Cowen, John G. Digiovanna, Massimo Gadina, Andrew J. Lipton, Colleen Hadigan, Steven M. Holland, Joseph Fontana, Ahmad S. Alawad, Rebecca J. Brown, Kristina I. Rother, Theo Heller, Kristina M. Brooks, Parag Kumar, Stephen R. Brooks, Meryl Waldman, Harsharan K. Singh, Volker Nickeleit, Maria Silk, Apurva Prakash, Jonathan M. Janes, Seza Ozen, Paul G. Wakim, Paul A. Brogan, William L. Macias, Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky
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