Preclinical and Clinical Studies of Gamma Secretase Inhibitors with Docetaxel on Human Breast Tumors

Internal Medicine, University of Michigan.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.72). 01/2013; 19(6). DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-3326
Source: PubMed


Accumulating evidence supports the existence of breast cancer stem cells (BCSC), which are characterized by their capacity to self-renew and divide indefinitely and resistance to conventional therapies. The Notch pathway is important for stem cell renewal and is a potential target for BCSC-directed therapy.

Experimental design:
Using human breast tumorgraft studies, we evaluated the impact of gamma secretase inhibitors (GSI) on the BCSC population and the efficacy of combining GSI with docetaxel treatment. The mouse experimental therapy paralleled a concurrent clinical trial in patients with advanced breast cancer, designed to determine the maximum-tolerated dose of the GSI, MK-0752, administered sequentially with docetaxel, and to evaluate BCSC markers in serial tumor biopsies.

Treatment with GSI reduced BCSCs in MC1 and BCM-2147 tumorgrafts by inhibition of the Notch pathway. GSI enhanced the efficacy of docetaxel in preclinical studies. In the clinical trial, 30 patients with advanced breast cancer were treated with escalating doses of MK-0752 plus docetaxel. Clinically, meaningful doses of both drugs were possible with manageable toxicity and preliminary evidence of efficacy. A decrease in CD44(+)/CD24(-), ALDH(+), and mammosphere-forming efficiency were observed in tumors of patients undergoing serial biopsies.

These preclinical data show that pharmacologic inhibition of the Notch pathway can reduce BCSCs in breast tumorgraft models. The clinical trial shows feasibility of combination GSI and chemotherapy, and together these results encourage further study of Notch pathway inhibitors in combination with chemotherapy in breast cancer.

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    • "We identify Hif-1a as the nonessential subunit of g-secretase that can shift and modulate enzyme equilibrium from the inactive complex to the active form. g-Secretase inhibitors (GSIs) are on trial for the treatment for a variety of neoplasms, and some clinical benefit has been observed (Gounder and Schwartz, 2012; Krop et al., 2012; Schott et al., 2013; Tolcher et al., 2012; Wei et al., 2010). Notch signaling plays an important role in cancer metastasis (Sethi and Kang, 2011), and GSI treatment reduced Notch-mediated bone metastasis of breast cancer (Sethi et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: γ-Secretase is composed of four proteins that are obligatory for protease activity: presenilin, nicastrin, Aph1, and Pen-2. Despite the progress toward understanding the function of these individual subunits, there is no information available pertaining to the modulation of γ-secretase in response to environmental changes in cells. Here, we show that hypoxia upregulates γ-secretase activity through a direct interaction with Hif-1α, revealing an unconventional function for Hif-1α as an enzyme subunit, which is distinct from its canonical role as a transcription factor. Moreover, hypoxia-induced cell invasion and metastasis are alleviated by either γ-secretase inhibitors or a dominant-negative Notch coactivator, indicating that γ-secretase/Notch signaling plays an essential role in controlling these cellular processes. The present study reveals a mechanism in which γ-secretase can achieve temporal control through conditional interactions with regulatory proteins, such as Hif-1α, under select physiological and pathological conditions.
    Cell Reports 08/2014; 8(4). DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2014.07.028 · 8.36 Impact Factor
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    • "This may be due to the fact that endocrine therapy ameliorates the gastrointestinal toxicity of GSIs.149 Similarly, in TNBC, combinations of GSIs and taxanes have shown synergistic efficacy.150 "
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    ABSTRACT: Notch signaling is an evolutionarily conserved pathway involved in cell fate control during development, stem cell self-renewal, and postnatal tissue differentiation. Roles for Notch in carcinogenesis, the biology of cancer stem cells, tumor angiogenesis, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) have been reported. This review describes the role of Notch in the "stemness" program in cancer cells and in metastases, together with a brief update on the Notch inhibitors currently under investigation in oncology. These agents may be useful in targeting cancer stem cells and to reverse the EMT process.
    OncoTargets and Therapy 09/2013; 6:1249-1259. DOI:10.2147/OTT.S36162 · 2.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) remains a lethal human malignancy with historically limited success in treatment. The role of aberrant Notch signaling, which requires the constitutive activation of γ-secretase, in the initiation and progression of PDA is well defined and inhibitors of this pathway are currently in clinical trials. Here we investigated the in vivo therapeutic effect of PF-03084014, a selective γ-secretase inhibitor, alone and in combination with gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer xenografts. PF-03084014 treatment inhibited the cleavage of nuclear Notch 1 intracellular domain and Notch targets Hes-1 and Hey-1. Gemcitabine treatment showed good response but not capable of inducing tumor regressions and targeting the tumor-resident cancer stem cells (CD24(+)CD44(+) and ALDH(+) tumor cells). A combination of PF-03084014 and gemcitabine treatment resulted tumor regression in 3 of 4 subcutaneously implanted xenograft models. PF-03084014, and in combination with gemcitabine reduced putative cancer stem cells, indicating that PF-03084014 target the especially dangerous and resilient cancer stem cells within pancreatic tumors. Tumor re-growth curves plotted after drug treatments demonstrated that the effect of the combination therapy was sustainable than that of gemcitabine. Notably, in a highly aggressive orthotopic model, PF-03084014 and gemcitabine combination was effective in inducing apoptosis, inhibition of tumor cell proliferation and angiogenesis, resulting in the attenuation of primary tumor growth as well as controlling metastatic dissemination, compared to gemcitabine treatment. In summary, our preclinical data suggest that PF-03084014 has greater anti-tumor activity in combination with gemcitabine in PDA and provides rationale for further investigation of this combination in PDA.
    Cancer letters 02/2013; 335(1). DOI:10.1016/j.canlet.2013.01.054 · 5.62 Impact Factor
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