2021 ASH: Combining the IAP Antagonist Tolinapant with a DNA Hypomethylating Agent Enhances Immunogenic Cell Death in Preclinical Models of T-Cell Lymphoma

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Combining the IAP Antagonist Tolinapant with a DNA Hypomethylating Agent Enhances Immunogenic Cell Death in Preclinical Models of T-Cell Lymphoma

Abstract:

Introduction:  Tolinapant is a potent, non-peptidomimetic antagonist of cIAP1, cIAP2 and XIAP.  In ongoing Phase 2 trial (NCT02503423), tolinapant has shown activity against highly pre-treated peripheral and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (Samaniego et al., Hematological Oncology, 2019). Hypomethylating agents (HMAs) have also shown clinical responses in some subsets of PTCL (Lemonnier et al., Blood, 2019). Both HMAs and IAP antagonists show immunomodulatory anti-cancer potential in pre-clinical studies. A Phase 1 clinical study investigating the combination of tolinapant and ASTX727 (oral decitabine) in AML is currently in progress (NCT04155580). Here we have undertaken a biomarker-driven approach to understand the potential for induction of immunogenic forms of cell death (ICD), such as necroptosis, by rational combination of our clinical compounds in pre-clinical models of T-cell lymphoma (TCL).

Methods:  On-target effects of decitabine and tolinapant were measured by analysing levels of DNMT1 and cIAP1, respectively, by Western blotting in mouse and human cell lines. Levels of key apoptosis, necroptosis or pyroptosis biomarkers were also monitored by Western blotting to provide evidence of lytic cell death contributing to a potential immune response. RIPK3- or MLKL-knockout cell lines were generated by CRISPR to demonstrate involvement of necroptosis in drug-induced cell death in a T-cell lymphoma cell line (BW5147.G.1.4) in vitro. Cell death was monitored by viability (CellTiterGlo) or real-time microscopy (IncuCyte) assays. Levels of key inflammatory mediators or DAMPS were measured in tissue culture supernatants and mouse plasma by Luminex assay (Ampersand).

Results:  Combined treatment of tolinapant and decitabine led to depletion of cIAP1 and DNMT1 in TCL cell lines, demonstrating on-target activity of tolinapant and decitabine, respectively. The combination of tolinapant and decitabine acted synergistically in mouse and human T-cell lymphoma cell lines to reduce viability in proliferation assays.

Necroptosis was induced by decitabine or tolinapant alone in mouse TCL cell lines with robust activation of the RIPK1/RIPK3/MLKL necroptosis pathway when caspase activity was inhibited, and the combination of both agents enhanced loss of viability.

Furthermore, we demonstrated decitabine treatment led to re-expression of both RIPK3 and MLKL in mouse cell lines, supporting published evidence that methylation can silence these key biomarkers (Koo et al., Cell Research, 2015; Koch et al., Neoplasia, 2021). Enhanced release of chemokine, cytokine and DAMPs was demonstrated with the combination of agents in vitro and in vivo.

By removal of key necroptosis pathway components using CRISPR, we confirmed the importance of this lytic cell death pathway by demonstrating that RIPK3-/- and MLKL-/- T-cell lymphoma (BW5147.G.1.4) cell lines had reduced necroptosis potential after treatment with tolinapant or decitabine alone or in combination; and demonstrate reduced release of inflammatory mediators in vitro.

Finally, our in vivo evaluation of the combination of agents in mouse syngeneic models suggested that increased anti-tumour activity and immune-potentiating systemic biomarker modulation can be achieved with a tolerated dosing regimen of both compounds.

Conclusion:  These data demonstrate that decitabine enhances immunogenic cell death induced by tolinapant through the re-expression of genes in the necroptotic pathway.  This finding provides strong rationale to explore this combination clinically.

Ferrari, et al. “Antagonism of inhibitors of apoptosis proteins reveals a novel, immune response-based therapeutic approach for T-cell lymphoma”, 2021

Blood Advances. 2021 Oct 26;5(20):4003-4016.

DOI: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2020003955

2020 EORTC-NCI-AACR: The non-peptidomimetic cIAP1/2 and XIAP antagonist tolinapant promotes an anti-tumour immune response in T-cell lymphoma

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The non-peptidomimetic cIAP1/2 and XIAP antagonist tolinapant promotes an anti-tumour immune response in T-cell lymphoma

Summary

Tolinapant (ASTX660) is a potent, non-peptidomimetic antagonist of the cellular and X-linked inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (cIAP1/2 and XIAP) [1], which is currently being tested in a first in human phase I-II clinical trial in patients with advanced solid tumours and lymphomas (NCT02503423) [2]. IAP antagonists have been reported to exhibit broad immuno-modulatory effects on both the innate and adaptive immune systems. We have investigated the profile of tolinapant in preclinical T cell lymphoma models and evaluated tolinapant’s ability to enhance immune mediated killing of T cell lymphoma cells, both in vitro and in vivo.

References:

  1. G Ward et al., 2018, Mol Cancer Therapeutics Jul;17(7):1381-1391
  2. A Hollebecque et al., 2019, AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular
    Targets and Cancer Therapeutics

2020 AACR: ASTX660, a non-peptidomimetic antagonist of cIAP1/2 and XIAP, promotes an anti-tumor immune response in pre-clinical models of T-cell lymphoma

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ASTX660, a non-peptidomimetic antagonist of cIAP1/2 and XIAP, promotes an anti-tumor immune response in pre-clinical models of T-cell lymphoma

Summary

  • ASTX660 is a potent, non-peptidomimetic antagonist of the cellular and X-linked inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (cIAP1/2 and XIAP), which is currently being tested in a first in human phase I-II study in patients with advanced solid tumors and lymphomas (NCT02503423) where preliminary activity has been described in a group of T-cell lymphomas (1)
  • Herein, together with its well-characterized pro-apoptotic effect (2), we describe a new role for ASTX660 as an immunomodulatory molecule capable of promoting an anti-tumor immune response in pre-clinical models of T-cell lymphoma. These data add to the description of ASTX660’s mode of action and our ongoing understanding of the preliminary clinical efficacy that has been reported.

References:
1. Samaniego F, et al., Hematological Oncology. 2019;37(S2):527.
2.Ward GA et al., Mol Can Ther. 2018;17(7):1381-91

2020 EHA: Characterization of ASTX660, an antagonist of cIAP1/2 and XIAP, in mouse models of T cell lymphoma

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Characterization of ASTX660, an antagonist of cIAP1/2 and XIAP, in mouse models of T cell lymphoma

Abstract:

Background:  ASTX660 is a potent, non-peptidomimetic antagonist of the cellular and X-linked inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (cIAP1/2 and XIAP), which is currently being tested in a first in human phase I-II study in patients with advanced solid tumor and lymphomas (NCT02503423). IAP antagonists have been reported to exhibit broad immuno-modulatory effects on both the innate and adaptive immune systems .

Aims:  We have investigated the profile of ASTX660 in preclinical T cell lymphoma models and evaluated ASTX660’s ability to enhance immune mediated killing of T cell lymphoma cells, both in vitro and in vivo.

Methods:  ASTX660 was tested in a panel of human and mouse tumor cell lines, assessing apoptosis, necroptosis and immunogenic cell death (ICD). ASTX660 was tested in vitro alone or with recombinant death receptor ligands (TNFa, FASL or TRAIL) and with or without caspase-8/RIPK inhibitors to demonstrate mechanism of action. Target engagement along with induction of apoptosis, necroptosis and ICD markers were analysed by Western blotting, and flow cytometry. Murine tumor models in immunocompetent and immunocompromised mice were utilised to evaluate the efficacy of ASTX660 in the presence or absence of an effective immune response. The Nanostring IO360 panel was used to assess immune cell recruitment.

Results:  ASTX660 antagonised IAPs in cell lines, as indicated by a decrease in cIAP1 protein levels and disruption of the XIAP:SMAC protein complex. In murine T cell lymphoma cell lines (BW5147, EL4 and L5178Y), ASTX660 treatment was associated with an increase in apoptosis or necroptosis and ICD biomarkers. In immunocompetent mice, administration of ASTX660 delivered a complete regression of BW5147 tumor growth, which was not seen in mice deficient in T and B cells. These mice remained refractory to subsequent rechallenge after initial complete regression. Biomarker evaluation from this model indicated a potent immunogenic/necroptotic response after ASTX660 dosing and upregulation of immune effector cells.

References:
1. Michie J. et al., The Immuno-Modulatory Effects of Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins Antagonists, Cells, 2020, 9(1), 207.
2. A. Hollebecque et al., AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics, 2019.

 

Ye, et al. “ASTX660, an antagonist of cIAP1/2 and XIAP, increases antigen processing machinery and can enhance radiation-induced immunogenic cell death in preclinical models of head and neck cancer”

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https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2162402X.2019.1710398

Abstract:

Inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) antagonists have shown activity in preclinical models of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), and work across several cancer types has demonstrated diverse immune stimulatory effects including enhancement of T cell, NK cell, and dendritic cell function. However, tumor-cell-intrinsic mechanisms for this immune upregulation have been largely unexplored. In this study, we show that ASTX660, an antagonist of cIAP1/2 and XIAP, induces expression of immunogenic cell death (ICD) markers in sensitive HNSCC cell lines in vitro. Experiments in syngeneic mouse models of HNSCC showed that ASTX660 can also enhance radiation-induced ICD in vivo. On a functional level, ASTX660 also enhanced killing of multiple murine cell lines by cytotoxic tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, and when combined with XRT, stimulated clonal expansion of antigen-specific T lymphocytes and expression of MHC class I on the surface of tumor cells. Flow cytometry experiments in several human HNSCC cell lines showed that MHC class I (HLA-A,B,C) was reliably upregulated in response to ASTX660 + TNFα, while increases in other antigen processing machinery (APM) components were variable among different cell lines. These findings suggest that ASTX660 may enhance anti-tumor immunity both by promoting ICD and by enhancing antigen processing and presentation.

 

Mita, et al. “A Phase 1 Study of ASTX660, an Antagonist of Inhibitors of Apoptosis Proteins, in Adults With Advanced Cancers or Lymphoma”

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https://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2020/01/03/1078-0432.CCR-19-1430.long

 

Abstract

Purpose: This first-in-human, phase 1 study evaluated ASTX660, an oral, small-molecule antagonist of cellular/X-linked inhibitors of apoptosis proteins in patients with advanced solid tumors or lymphoma. Experimental Design: ASTX660 was administered orally once daily on a 7-day-on/7-day-off schedule in a 28-day cycle. Dose escalation followed a standard 3+3 design to determine the maximum tolerated dose and recommended phase 2 dose (RP2D). Dose expansion was conducted at the RP2D. Results: Forty-five patients received ASTX660 (range 15-270 mg/d). Dose-limiting toxicity of grade 3 increased lipase with or without increased amylase occurred in 3 patients at 270 mg/d and 1 patient at 210 mg/d. The maximum tolerated dose was determined to be 210 mg/d and the RP2D 180 mg/d. Common treatment-related adverse events included fatigue (33%), vomiting (31%), and nausea (27%). Grade ≥3 treatment-related adverse events occurred in 7 patients, most commonly anemia (13%), increased lipase (11%), and lymphopenia (9%). ASTX660 was rapidly absorbed, with maximum concentration achieved at ~0.5‒1.0 hour. An ~2-fold accumulation in area under the curve exposures was observed on day 7 vs 1. ASTX660 suppressed cellular inhibitor of apoptosis protein-1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, which was maintained into the second cycle beyond the off-therapy week at the 180-mg/d RP2D and above. Clinical activity was seen in a patient with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Conclusions: ASTX660 demonstrated a manageable safety profile, and exhibited evidence of pharmacodynamic and preliminary clinical activity at the 180-mg/d RP2D. The phase 2 part of the study is ongoing.

Dittmann, et al. “Next-generation hypomethylating agent SGI-110 primes acute myeloid leukemia cells to IAP antagonist by activating extrinsic and intrinsic apoptosis pathways”

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https://www.nature.com/articles/s41418-019-0465-8

Abstract

Therapeutic efficacy of first-generation hypomethylating agents (HMAs) is limited in elderly acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. Therefore, combination strategies with targeted therapies are urgently needed. Here, we discover that priming with SGI-110 (guadecitabine), a next-generation HMA, sensitizes AML cells to ASTX660, a novel antagonist of cellular inhibitor of apoptosis protein 1 and 2 (cIAP1/2) and X-linked IAP (XIAP). Importantly, SGI-110 and ASTX660 synergistically induced cell death in a panel of AML cell lines as well as in primary AML samples while largely sparing normal CD34+ human progenitor cells, underlining the translational relevance of this combination. Unbiased transcriptome analysis revealed that SGI-110 alone or in combination with ASTX660 upregulated the expression of key regulators of both extrinsic and intrinsic apoptosis signaling pathways such as TNFRSF10B (DR5), FAS, and BAX. Individual knockdown of the death receptors TNFR1, DR5, and FAS significantly reduced SGI-110/ASTX660-mediated cell death, whereas blocking antibodies for tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) or FAS ligand (FASLG) failed to provide protection. Also, TNFα-blocking antibody Enbrel had little protective effect on SGI-110/ASTX660-induced cell death. Further, SGI-110 and ASTX660 acted in concert to promote cleavage of caspase-8 and BID, thereby providing a link between extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways. Consistently, sequential treatment with SGI-110 and ASTX660-triggered loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and BAX activation which contributes to cell death, as BAX silencing significantly protected from SGI-110/ASTX660-mediated apoptosis. Together, these events culminated in the activation of caspases-3/-7, nuclear fragmentation, and cell death. In conclusion, SGI-110 and ASTX660 cooperatively induced apoptosis in AML cells by engaging extrinsic and intrinsic apoptosis pathways, highlighting the therapeutic potential of this combination for AML.

2019 EORTC: Preliminary results of ASTX660, a novel non-peptidomimetic cIAP1/2 and XIAP antagonist, in 118 patients with solid tumors or lymphoma

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Preliminary results of ASTX660, a novel non-peptidomimetic cIAP1/2 and XIAP antagonist, in 118 patients with solid tumors or lymphoma

Abstract
Background:
ASTX660 is an oral, novel nonpeptidomimetic, small-molecule antagonist of cellular/X-linked inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (cIAP1/2 and XIAP). ASTX660 is currently being evaluated in a first-in-human phase 1‒2 study in patients (pts) with advanced solid tumors or lymphoma (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02503423). In the ongoing phase 2, ASTX660 has demonstrated preliminary evidence of clinical activity in the relapsed/refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) cohorts (Mehta et al, presented at the EHA Conference 2019, abs PS1073). Here, we report overall efficacy and safety data from the solid tumors (head and neck squamous cell carcinoma [HNSCC]; cervical carcinoma and other solid tumors) and lymphoma (diffuse large B-cell lymphoma [DLBCL], PTCL, CTCL,) phase 2 cohorts.

Method:
Pts received treatment with ASTX660 orally at the RP2D 180mg/day on days 1 to 7, and 15 to 22 in a 28-day cycle. In the first stage 14 evaluable pts were enrolled in each of the 6 phase 2 cohorts with the option to expand the cohort if activity was observed. The primary endpoint was response rate as assessed by the investigator according to the Lugano criteria (DLBCL and PTCL), Global Assessment (CTCL), or RECIST 1.1 (solid tumors). Adverse events (AEs) were assessed per CTCAE V4.03.

Result:
As of June 4, 2019, a total of 107 pts have received ASTX660 in the solid tumors and lymphoma phase 2 cohorts (HNSCC n=14; DLBCL n=16; PTCL n=26; CTCL n=23; cervical carcinoma n=14; other solid tumors n= 14). Median age (range) was 61 (23-84) years and median number (range) of prior anticancer regimens was 3 (0-12). Among all pts, the most common related AEs of any grade (≥ 10%) were rash (35%), lipase elevation (34%), amylase elevation (29%), diarrhea (14%), fatigue (14%), AST elevation (13%), nausea (13%), and anemia (11%). Related AEs ≥ Grade 3 occurring in ≥ 5% of pts were rash (18%), lipase elevation (16%) and amylase elevation (9%). As of 4 June 2019, 86 pts (80%) discontinued study treatment: 64 (60%) due to progressive disease, 13 (12%) due to AE, 4 (4%) due to death, 4 (4%) due to withdrawal by participant and 1 (1%) for investigator’s decision. At the time of analysis, the ORR was 36% in the PTCL cohort and 15% in the CTCL cohort. One PR was reported in a pt with metastatic melanoma after 12 cycles of treatment. No objective responses were reported in the HNSCC, DLBCL or cervical cohorts. Accrual in the PTCL and CTCL continues; updated efficacy and safety data will be presented at the meeting.

Conclusion: In the phase 2 part of the study ASTX660 monotherapy has demonstrated a manageable safety profile and encouraging activity in PTCL and CTCL warranting cohort expansion. Future plans include evaluation of ASXT660 both as mono- or combination therapy in selected malignancies.

Xiao, et al. “Dual Antagonist of cIAP/XIAP ASTX660 Sensitizes HPV−and HPV+ Head and Neck Cancers to TNFα, TRAIL, and Radiation Therapy”

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https://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2019/09/20/1078-0432.CCR-18-3802

Abstract

Purpose: Human papillomavirus–negative (HPV) head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) harbor frequent genomic amplification of Fas-associated death domain, with or without concurrent amplification of Baculovirus inhibitor of apoptosis repeat containing (BIRC2/3) genes encoding cellular inhibitor of apoptosis proteins 1/2 (cIAP1/2). Antagonists targeting cIAP1 have been reported to enhance sensitivity of HPV, but not HPV+ tumors, to TNF family death ligands (TNF and TRAIL) and radiation.

Experimental Design: We tested a novel dual cIAP/XIAP antagonist ASTX660 in HPV+ and HPV cell lines in combination with death ligands TNFα and TRAIL, and in preclinical xenograft models with radiation, an inducer of death ligands. The dependence of activity on TNF was examined by antibody depletion.

Results: ASTX660 sensitized subsets of HPV and HPV+ HNSCC cell lines to TNFα and TRAIL. These antitumor effects of ASTX660 are the result of both apoptosis and/or necroptosis among HPV cells, and primarily by apoptosis (caspase 3 and caspase 8 cleavage) in HPV+ cells. ASTX660 enhanced restoration of protein expression and inhibitory activity of proapoptotic tumor suppressor TP53 in HPV+ HNSCC. Furthermore, ASTX660 combined with radiotherapy, an inducer of death ligands, significantly delayed growth of both HPV and HPV+ human tumor xenografts, an effect attenuated by anti-TNFα pretreatment blockade.

Conclusions: IAP1/XIAP antagonist, ASTX660, sensitizes HPV+ HNSCC to TNFα via a mechanism involving restoration of TP53. These findings serve to motivate further studies of dual cIAP/XIAP antagonists and future clinical trials combining these antagonists with radiotherapy to treat both HPV+ and HPV HNSCC.