Publications by authors named "Dario Ballinari"

28 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Afatinib Is a New Therapeutic Approach in Chordoma with a Unique Ability to Target EGFR and Brachyury.

Mol Cancer Ther 2018 03 13;17(3):603-613. Epub 2017 Dec 13.

Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

Chordomas are rare bone tumors with no approved therapy. These tumors express several activated tyrosine kinase receptors, which prompted attempts to treat patients with tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Although clinical benefit was observed in phase II clinical trials with imatinib and sorafenib, and sporadically also with EGFR inhibitors, therapies evaluated to date have shown modest activity. With the goal of identifying new drugs with immediate therapeutic potential for chordoma patients, we collected clinically approved drugs and other advanced inhibitors of MET, PDGFRβ, and EGFR tyrosine kinases, and assessed their antiproliferative activity against a panel of chordoma cell lines. Chordoma cell lines were not responsive to MET and PDGFRβ inhibitors. U-CH1 and UM-Chor1 were sensitive to all EGFR inhibitors, whereas the remaining cell lines were generally insensitive to these drugs. Afatinib was the only EGFR inhibitor with activity across the chordoma panel. We then investigated the molecular mechanisms behind the responses observed and found that the antiproliferative ICs correlate with the unique ability of afatinib to promote degradation of EGFR and brachyury, an embryonic transcription factor considered a key driver of chordoma. Afatinib displayed potent antitumor efficacy in U-CH1, SF8894, CF322, and CF365 chordoma tumor models In the panel analyzed, high EGFR phosphorylation and low AXL and STK33 expression correlated with higher sensitivity to afatinib and deserve further investigation as potential biomarkers of response. These data support the use of afatinib in clinical trials and provide the rationale for the upcoming European phase II study on afatinib in advanced chordoma. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-17-0324DOI Listing
March 2018

Establishment and genomic characterization of the new chordoma cell line Chor-IN-1.

Sci Rep 2017 08 23;7(1):9226. Epub 2017 Aug 23.

Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Nerviano, (MI), Italy.

Chordomas are rare, slowly growing tumors with high medical need, arising in the axial skeleton from notochord remnants. The transcription factor "brachyury" represents a distinctive molecular marker and a key oncogenic driver of chordomas. Tyrosine kinase receptors are also expressed, but so far kinase inhibitors have not shown clear clinical efficacy in chordoma patients. The need for effective therapies is extremely high, but the paucity of established chordoma cell lines has limited preclinical research. Here we describe the isolation of the new Chor-IN-1 cell line from a recurrent sacral chordoma and its characterization as compared to other chordoma cell lines. Chor-IN-1 displays genomic identity to the tumor of origin and has morphological features, growth characteristics and chromosomal abnormalities typical of chordoma, with expression of brachyury and other relevant biomarkers. Chor-IN-1 gene variants, copy number alterations and kinome gene expression were analyzed in comparison to other four chordoma cell lines, generating large scale DNA and mRNA genomic data that can be exploited for the identification of novel pharmacological targets and candidate predictive biomarkers of drug sensitivity in chordoma. The establishment of this new, well characterized chordoma cell line provides a useful tool for the identification of drugs active in chordoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-10044-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569021PMC
August 2017

Entrectinib, a Pan-TRK, ROS1, and ALK Inhibitor with Activity in Multiple Molecularly Defined Cancer Indications.

Mol Cancer Ther 2016 04 3;15(4):628-39. Epub 2016 Mar 3.

Nerviano Medical Sciences srl, Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

Activated ALK and ROS1 tyrosine kinases, resulting from chromosomal rearrangements, occur in a subset of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) as well as other tumor types and their oncogenic relevance as actionable targets has been demonstrated by the efficacy of selective kinase inhibitors such as crizotinib, ceritinib, and alectinib. More recently, low-frequency rearrangements of TRK kinases have been described in NSCLC, colorectal carcinoma, glioblastoma, and Spitzoid melanoma. Entrectinib, whose discovery and preclinical characterization are reported herein, is a novel, potent inhibitor of ALK, ROS1, and, importantly, of TRK family kinases, which shows promise for therapy of tumors bearing oncogenic forms of these proteins. Proliferation profiling against over 200 human tumor cell lines revealed that entrectinib is exquisitely potent in vitro against lines that are dependent on the drug's pharmacologic targets. Oral administration of entrectinib to tumor-bearing mice induced regression in relevant human xenograft tumors, including the TRKA-dependent colorectal carcinoma KM12, ROS1-driven tumors, and several ALK-dependent models of different tissue origins, including a model of brain-localized lung cancer metastasis. Entrectinib is currently showing great promise in phase I/II clinical trials, including the first documented objective responses to a TRK inhibitor in colorectal carcinoma and in NSCLC. The drug is, thus, potentially suited to the therapy of several molecularly defined cancer settings, especially that of TRK-dependent tumors, for which no approved drugs are currently available. Mol Cancer Ther; 15(4); 628-39. ©2016 AACR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-15-0758DOI Listing
April 2016

Mcl-1 antagonism is a potential therapeutic strategy in a subset of solid cancers.

Exp Cell Res 2015 Mar 5;332(2):267-77. Epub 2014 Dec 5.

Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l. - Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, I-20014 Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

Cancer cell survival is frequently dependent on the elevated levels of members of the Bcl-2 family of prosurvival proteins that bind to and inactivate BH3-domain pro-apoptotic cellular proteins. Small molecules that inhibit the protein-protein interactions between prosurvival and proapoptotic Bcl-2 family members (so-called "BH3 mimetics") have a potential therapeutic value, as indicated by clinical findings obtained with ABT-263 (navitoclax), a Bcl-2/Bcl-xL antagonist, and more recently with GDC-0199/ABT-199, a more selective antagonist of Bcl-2. Here, we report study results of the functional role of the prosurvival protein Mcl-1 against a panel of solid cancer cell lines representative of different tumor types. We observed silencing of Mcl-1 expression by small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) significantly reduced viability and induced apoptosis in almost 30% of cell lines tested, including lung and breast adenocarcinoma, as well as glioblastoma derived lines. Most importantly, we provide a mechanistic basis for this sensitivity by showing antagonism of Mcl-1 function with specific BH3 peptides against isolated mitochondria induces Bak oligomerization and cytochrome c release, therefore demonstrating that mitochondria from Mcl-1-sensitive cells depend on Mcl-1 for their integrity and that antagonizing Mcl-1 function is sufficient to induce apoptosis. Thus, our results lend further support for considering Mcl-1 as a therapeutic target in a number of solid cancers and support the rationale for development of small molecule BH3-mimetics antagonists of this protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yexcr.2014.11.022DOI Listing
March 2015

Pyrrole-3-carboxamides as potent and selective JAK2 inhibitors.

Bioorg Med Chem 2014 Sep 21;22(17):4998-5012. Epub 2014 Jun 21.

Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l., Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano (MI), Italy.

We report herein the discovery, structure guided design, synthesis and biological evaluation of a novel class of JAK2 inhibitors. Optimization of the series led to the identification of the potent and orally bioavailable JAK2 inhibitor 28 (NMS-P953). Compound 28 displayed significant tumour growth inhibition in SET-2 xenograft tumour model, with a mechanism of action confirmed in vivo by typical modulation of known biomarkers, and with a favourable pharmacokinetic and safety profile.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2014.06.025DOI Listing
September 2014

The TPM3-NTRK1 rearrangement is a recurring event in colorectal carcinoma and is associated with tumor sensitivity to TRKA kinase inhibition.

Mol Oncol 2014 Dec 12;8(8):1495-507. Epub 2014 Jun 12.

Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l., Nerviano (Milan), Italy.

The NTRK1 gene encodes Tropomyosin-related kinase A (TRKA), the high-affinity Nerve Growth Factor Receptor. NTRK1 was originally isolated from a colorectal carcinoma (CRC) sample as component of a somatic rearrangement (TPM3-NTRK1) resulting in expression of the oncogenic chimeric protein TPM3-TRKA, but there has been no subsequent report regarding the relevance of this oncogene in CRC. The KM12 human CRC cell line expresses the chimeric TPM3-TRKA protein and is hypersensitive to TRKA kinase inhibition. We report the detailed characterization of the TPM3-NTRK1 genomic rearrangement in KM12 cells and through a cellular screening approach, the identification of NMS-P626, a novel highly potent and selective TRKA inhibitor. NMS-P626 suppressed TPM3-TRKA phosphorylation and downstream signaling in KM12 cells and showed remarkable antitumor activity in mice bearing KM12 tumors. Finally, using quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC) we identified the TPM3-NTRK1 rearrangement in a CRC clinical sample, therefore suggesting that this chromosomal translocation is indeed a low frequency recurring event in CRC and that such patients might benefit from therapy with TRKA kinase inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molonc.2014.06.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5528583PMC
December 2014

Covalent and allosteric inhibitors of the ATPase VCP/p97 induce cancer cell death.

Nat Chem Biol 2013 Sep 28;9(9):548-56. Epub 2013 Jul 28.

Business Unit Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Nerviano, Italy.

VCP (also known as p97 or Cdc48p in yeast) is an AAA(+) ATPase regulating endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation. After high-throughput screening, we developed compounds that inhibit VCP via different mechanisms, including covalent modification of an active site cysteine and a new allosteric mechanism. Using photoaffinity labeling, structural analysis and mutagenesis, we mapped the binding site of allosteric inhibitors to a region spanning the D1 and D2 domains of adjacent protomers encompassing elements important for nucleotide-state sensing and ATP hydrolysis. These compounds induced an increased affinity for nucleotides. Interference with nucleotide turnover in individual subunits and distortion of interprotomer communication cooperated to impair VCP enzymatic activity. Chemical expansion of this allosteric class identified NMS-873, the most potent and specific VCP inhibitor described to date, which activated the unfolded protein response, interfered with autophagy and induced cancer cell death. The consistent pattern of cancer cell killing by covalent and allosteric inhibitors provided critical validation of VCP as a cancer target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.1313DOI Listing
September 2013

9-Fluorenone-2-Carboxylic Acid as a Scaffold for Tubulin Interacting Compounds.

Chempluschem 2013 Jul 13;78(7):663-669. Epub 2013 May 13.

Dipartimento di Chimica-INSTM-UdR, and Istituto di Scienze e tecnologie molecolari del CNR (CNR-ISTM), Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Golgi 19, 20133 Milano (Italy).

The introduction of a hydrophobic group at position 7 of 9-fluorenone-2-carboxylic acid generates new tubulin binders, the design of which is suggested by modeling studies. The synthesis is based on the use of 2,7-dibromo-fluorenone as starting material. The antiproliferative activity on two different cell lines, fluorescent microscopy, flow cytometry, and sedimentation assay tests confirmed the supposed mechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cplu.201300036DOI Listing
July 2013

NMS-E973, a novel synthetic inhibitor of Hsp90 with activity against multiple models of drug resistance to targeted agents, including intracranial metastases.

Clin Cancer Res 2013 Jul 14;19(13):3520-32. Epub 2013 May 14.

Department of Biotechnology, Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Nerviano (MI), Italy.

Purpose: Recent developments of second generation Hsp90 inhibitors suggested a potential for development of this class of molecules also in tumors that have become resistant to molecular targeted agents. Disease progression is often due to brain metastases, sometimes related to insufficient drug concentrations within the brain. Our objective was to identify and characterize a novel inhibitor of Hsp90 able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

Experimental Design: Here is described a detailed biochemical and crystallographic characterization of NMS-E973. Mechanism-based anticancer activity was described in cell models, including models of resistance to kinase inhibitors. Pharmacokinetics properties were followed in plasma, tumor, liver, and brain. In vivo activity and pharmacodynamics, as well as the pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationships, were evaluated in xenografts, including an intracranially implanted melanoma model.

Results: NMS-E973, representative of a novel isoxazole-derived class of Hsp90 inhibitors, binds Hsp90α with subnanomolar affinity and high selectivity towards kinases, as well as other ATPases. It possesses potent antiproliferative activity against tumor cell lines and a favorable pharmacokinetic profile, with selective retention in tumor tissue and ability to cross the BBB. NMS-E973 induces tumor shrinkage in different human tumor xenografts, and is highly active in models of resistance to kinase inhibitors. Moreover, consistent with its brain penetration, NMS-E973 is active also in an intracranially implanted melanoma model.

Conclusions: Overall, the efficacy profile of NMS-E973 suggests a potential for development in different clinical settings, including tumors that have become resistant to molecular targeted agents, particularly in cases of tumors which reside beyond the BBB.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-3512DOI Listing
July 2013

Cell line identity finding by fingerprinting, an optimized resource for short tandem repeat profile authentication.

Genet Test Mol Biomarkers 2013 Mar 28;17(3):254-9. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

Business Unit Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l., Nerviano (MI), Italy.

The generation of biological data on wide panels of tumor cell lines is recognized as a valid contribution to the cancer research community. However, research laboratories can benefit from this knowledge only after the identity of each individual cell line used in the experiments is verified and matched to external sources. Among the methods employed to assess cell line identity, DNA fingerprinting by profiling Short Tandem Repeat (STR) at variable loci has become the method of choice. However, the analysis of cancer cell lines is sometimes complicated by their intrinsic genetic instability, resulting in multiple allele calls per locus. In addition, comparison of data across different sources must deal with the heterogeneity of published profiles both in terms of number and type of loci used. The aim of this work is to provide the scientific community a homogeneous reference dataset for 300 widely used tumor cell lines, profiled in parallel on 16 loci. This large dataset is interfaced with an in-house developed software tool for Cell Line Identity Finding by Fingerprinting (CLIFF), featuring an original identity score calculation, which facilitates the comparison of STR profiles from different sources and enables accurate calls when multiple loci are present. CLIFF additionally allows import and query of proprietary STR profile datasets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/gtmb.2012.0359DOI Listing
March 2013

NMS-P937, an orally available, specific small-molecule polo-like kinase 1 inhibitor with antitumor activity in solid and hematologic malignancies.

Mol Cancer Ther 2012 Apr 7;11(4):1006-16. Epub 2012 Feb 7.

Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is a serine/threonine protein kinase considered to be the master player of cell-cycle regulation during mitosis. It is indeed involved in centrosome maturation, bipolar spindle formation, chromosome separation, and cytokinesis. PLK1 is overexpressed in a variety of human tumors and its overexpression often correlates with poor prognosis. Although five different PLKs are described in humans, depletion or inhibition of kinase activity of PLK1 is sufficient to induce cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in cancer cell lines and in xenograft tumor models. NMS-P937 is a novel, orally available PLK1-specific inhibitor. The compound shows high potency in proliferation assays having low nanomolar activity on a large number of cell lines, both from solid and hematologic tumors. NMS-P937 potently causes a mitotic cell-cycle arrest followed by apoptosis in cancer cell lines and inhibits xenograft tumor growth with clear PLK1-related mechanism of action at well-tolerated doses in mice after oral administration. In addition, NMS-P937 shows potential for combination in clinical settings with approved cytotoxic drugs, causing tumor regression in HT29 human colon adenocarcinoma xenografts upon combination with irinotecan and prolonged survival of animals in a disseminated model of acute myelogenous leukemia in combination with cytarabine. NMS-P937, with its favorable pharmacologic parameters, good oral bioavailability in rodent and nonrodent species, and proven antitumor activity in different preclinical models using a variety of dosing regimens, potentially provides a high degree of flexibility in dosing schedules and warrants investigation in clinical settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-11-0765DOI Listing
April 2012

5-(2-amino-pyrimidin-4-yl)-1H-pyrrole and 2-(2-amino-pyrimidin-4-yl)-1,5,6,7-tetrahydro-pyrrolo[3,2-c]pyridin-4-one derivatives as new classes of selective and orally available Polo-like kinase 1 inhibitors.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2012 Jan 23;22(1):96-101. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

Nerviano Medical Sciences srl, Business Unit Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, (MI), Italy.

The discovery and characterization of two new chemical classes of potent and selective Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) inhibitors is reported. For the most interesting compounds, we discuss the biological activities, crystal structures and preliminary pharmacokinetic parameters. The more advanced compounds inhibit PLK1 in the enzymatic assay at the nM level and exhibit good activity in cell proliferation on A2780 cells. Furthermore, these compounds showed high levels of selectivity on a panel of unrelated kinases, as well as against PLK2 and PLK3 isoforms. Additionally, the compounds show acceptable oral bioavailability in mice making these inhibitors suitable candidates for further in vivo activity studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2011.11.065DOI Listing
January 2012

Cdc7 kinase inhibitors: 5-heteroaryl-3-carboxamido-2-aryl pyrroles as potential antitumor agents. 1. Lead finding.

J Med Chem 2010 Oct;53(20):7296-315

Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Business Unit Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, MI, Italy.

Cdc7 serine/threonine kinase is a key regulator of DNA synthesis in eukaryotic organisms. Cdc7 inhibition through siRNA or prototype small molecules causes p53 independent apoptosis in tumor cells while reversibly arresting cell cycle progression in primary fibroblasts. This implies that Cdc7 kinase could be considered a potential target for anticancer therapy. We previously reported that pyrrolopyridinones (e.g., 1) are potent and selective inhibitors of Cdc7 kinase, with good cellular potency and in vitro ADME properties but with suboptimal pharmacokinetic profiles. Here we report on a new chemical class of 5-heteroaryl-3-carboxamido-2-substituted pyrroles (1A) that offers advantages of chemistry diversification and synthetic simplification. This work led to the identification of compound 18, with biochemical data and ADME profile similar to those of compound 1 but characterized by superior efficacy in an in vivo model. Derivative 18 represents a new lead compound worthy of further investigation toward the ultimate goal of identifying a clinical candidate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm100504dDOI Listing
October 2010

Dual targeting of CDK and tropomyosin receptor kinase families by the oral inhibitor PHA-848125, an agent with broad-spectrum antitumor efficacy.

Mol Cancer Ther 2010 Aug 3;9(8):2243-54. Epub 2010 Aug 3.

Cell Biology Department, BU Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, v.le Pasteur 10, Nerviano, Milan 20014, Italy.

Altered expression and activity of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) and tropomyosin receptor kinase (TRK) families are observed in a wide variety of tumors. In those malignancies with aberrant CDK activation, the retinoblastoma protein (pRb) pathway is deregulated, leading to uncontrolled cell proliferation. Constitutive activation of TRKs is instead linked to cancer cell survival and dissemination. Here, we show that the novel small-molecule PHA-848125, a potent dual inhibitor of CDKs and TRKs, possesses significant antitumor activity. The compound inhibits cell proliferation of a wide panel of tumoral cell lines with submicromolar IC(50). PHA-848125-treated cells show cell cycle arrest in G(1) and reduced DNA synthesis, accompanied by inhibition of pRb phosphorylation and modulation of other CDK-dependent markers. The compound additionally inhibits phosphorylation of TRKA and its substrates in cells, which functionally express this receptor. Following oral administration, PHA-848125 has significant antitumor activity in various human xenografts and carcinogen-induced tumors as well as in disseminated primary leukemia models, with plasma concentrations in rodents in the same range as those found active in inhibiting cancer cell proliferation. Mechanism of action was also confirmed in vivo as assessed in tumor biopsies from treated mice. These results show that the dual CDK-TRK inhibitor PHA-848125 has the potential for being a novel and efficacious targeted drug for cancer treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-0190DOI Listing
August 2010

Identification of 4,5-dihydro-1H-pyrazolo[4,3-h]quinazoline derivatives as a new class of orally and selective Polo-like kinase 1 inhibitors.

J Med Chem 2010 May;53(9):3532-51

Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, (Mi), Italy.

Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) is a fundamental regulator of mitotic progression whose overexpression is often associated with oncogenesis and therefore is recognized as an attractive therapeutic target in the treatment of proliferative diseases. Here we discuss the structure-activity relationship of the 4,5-dihydro-1H-pyrazolo[4,3-h]quinazoline class of compounds that emerged from a high throughput screening (HTS) campaign as potent inhibitors of Plk1 kinase. Furthermore, we describe the discovery of 49, 8-{[2-methoxy-5-(4-methylpiperazin-1-yl)phenyl]amino}-1-methyl-4,5-dihydro-1H-pyrazolo[4,3-h]quinazoline-3-carboxamide, as a highly potent and specific ATP mimetic inhibitor of Plk1 (IC(50) = 0.007 microM) as well as its crystal structure in complex with the methylated Plk1(36-345) construct. Compound 49 was active in cell proliferation against different tumor cell lines with IC(50) values in the submicromolar range and active in vivo in the HCT116 xenograft model where it showed 82% tumor growth inhibition after repeated oral administration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm901713nDOI Listing
May 2010

Optimization of 6,6-dimethyl pyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazoles: Identification of PHA-793887, a potent CDK inhibitor suitable for intravenous dosing.

Bioorg Med Chem 2010 Mar 25;18(5):1844-53. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Business Unit Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano (MI), Italy.

We have recently reported CDK inhibitors based on the 6-substituted pyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazole core structure. Improvement of inhibitory potency against multiple CDKs, antiproliferative activity against cancer cell lines and optimization of the physico-chemical properties led to the identification of highly potent compounds. Compound 31 (PHA-793887) showed good efficacy in the human ovarian A2780, colon HCT-116 and pancreatic BX-PC3 carcinoma xenograft models and was well tolerated upon daily treatments by iv administration. It was identified as a drug candidate for clinical evaluation in patients with solid tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2010.01.042DOI Listing
March 2010

Identification of potent pyrazolo[4,3-h]quinazoline-3-carboxamides as multi-cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors.

J Med Chem 2010 Mar;53(5):2171-87

Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Business Unit Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, MI, Italy.

Abnormal proliferation mediated by disruption of the mechanisms that keep the cell cycle under control is a hallmark of virtually all cancer cells. Compounds targeting complexes between cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and cyclins (Cy) and inhibiting their activity are regarded as promising antitumor agents to complement the existing therapies. An expansion of pyrazolo[4,3-h]quinazoline chemical class oriented to the development of three points of variability was undertaken leading to a series of compounds able to inhibit CDKs both in vitro and in vivo. Starting from the CDK selective but poorly soluble hit compound 1, we succeeded in obtaining several compounds showing enhanced inhibitory activity both on CDKs and on tumor cells and displaying improved physical properties and pharmacokinetic behavior. Our study led to the identification of compound 59 as a highly potent, orally bioavailable CDK inhibitor that exhibited significant in vivo efficacy on the A2780 ovarian carcinoma xenograft model. The demonstrated mechanisms of action of compound 59 on cancer cell lines and its ability to inhibit tumor growth in vivo render this compound very interesting as potential antineoplastic agent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm901710hDOI Listing
March 2010

Doxazosin-related alpha1-adrenoceptor antagonists with prostate antitumor activity.

J Med Chem 2009 Aug;52(15):4951-4

Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Camerino, Camerino, Italy.

Doxazosin analogues 1-3 and 1a were synthesized and investigated at alpha1-adrenoceptors and PC-3, DU-145, and LNCaP human prostate cancer cells. Compound 1 (cyclodoxazosin) was a potent alpha(1B)-adrenoceptor antagonist displaying antiproliferative activity higher than that of doxazosin in cancer cells in vitro and in vivo, respectively. Because of its antitumor efficacy at low concentrations, lower apoptotic activity in NHDF vs tumor cells, and antiangiogenetic effect, 1 showed a better therapeutic profile relative to doxazosin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm8016046DOI Listing
August 2009

Identification of N,1,4,4-tetramethyl-8-{[4-(4-methylpiperazin-1-yl)phenyl]amino}-4,5-dihydro-1H-pyrazolo[4,3-h]quinazoline-3-carboxamide (PHA-848125), a potent, orally available cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor.

J Med Chem 2009 Aug;52(16):5152-63

Business Unit Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano (MI), Italy.

The discovery of a novel class of inhibitors of cyclin dependent kinases (CDKs) is described. Starting from compound 1, showing good potency as inhibitor of CDKs but being poorly selective against a panel of serine-threonine and tyrosine kinases, new analogues were synthesized. Enhancement in selectivity, antiproliferative activity against A2780 human ovarian carcinoma cells, and optimization of the physical properties and pharmacokinetic profile led to the identification of highly potent and orally available compounds. Compound 28 (PHA-848125), which in the preclinical xenograft A2780 human ovarian carcinoma model showed good efficacy and was well tolerated upon repeated daily treatments, was identified as a drug candidate for further development. Compound 28 is currently undergoing phase I and phase II clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm9006559DOI Listing
August 2009

Design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of levoglucosenone-derived ras activation inhibitors.

ChemMedChem 2009 Apr;4(4):524-8

B. U. Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, MI, Italy.

A panel of new potential Ras ligands was generated by decorating a tricyclic levoglucosenone-derived scaffold with aromatic moieties. Some members of the panel show in vitro inhibitory activity toward the nucleotide exchange process on Ras and are toxic to some human cancer cell lines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cmdc.200800416DOI Listing
April 2009

A model-based approach to the in vitro evaluation of anticancer activity.

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 2009 Apr 29;63(5):827-36. Epub 2008 Jul 29.

Accelera, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Via Pasteur 10, 20014, Nerviano (MI), Italy.

Purpose: The use of in vitro screening tests for characterizing the activity of anticancer agents is a standard practice in oncology research and development. In these studies, human A2780 ovarian carcinoma cells cultured in plates are exposed to different concentrations of the compounds for different periods of time. Their anticancer activity is then quantified in terms of EC(50) comparing the number of metabolically active cells present in the treated and the control arms at specified time points. The major concern of this methodology is the observed dependency of the EC(50) on the experimental design in terms of duration of exposure. This dependency could affect the efficacy ranking of the compounds, causing possible biases especially in the screening phase, when compound selection is the primary purpose of the in vitro analysis. To overcome this problem, the applicability of a modeling approach to these in vitro studies was evaluated.

Methods: The model, consisting of a system of ordinary differential equations, represents the growth of tumor cells using a few identifiable and biologically relevant parameters related to cell proliferation dynamics and drug action. In particular, the potency of the compounds can be measured by a unique and drug-specific parameter that is essentially independent of drug concentration and exposure time. Parameter values were estimated using weighted nonlinear least squares.

Results: The model was able to adequately describe the growth of tumor cells at different experimental conditions. The approach was validated both on commercial drugs and discovery candidate compounds. In addition, from this model the relationship between EC(50) and the exposure time was derived in an analytic form.

Conclusions: The proposed approach provides a new tool for predicting and/or simulating cell responses to different treatments with useful indications for optimizing in vitro experimental designs. The estimated potency parameter values obtained from different compounds can be used for an immediate ranking of anticancer activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00280-008-0798-3DOI Listing
April 2009

A Cdc7 kinase inhibitor restricts initiation of DNA replication and has antitumor activity.

Nat Chem Biol 2008 Jun 11;4(6):357-65. Epub 2008 May 11.

Nerviano Medical Sciences Oncology, Via Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, Italy.

Cdc7 is an essential kinase that promotes DNA replication by activating origins of replication. Here, we characterized the potent Cdc7 inhibitor PHA-767491 (1) in biochemical and cell-based assays, and we tested its antitumor activity in rodents. We found that the compound blocks DNA synthesis and affects the phosphorylation of the replicative DNA helicase at Cdc7-dependent phosphorylation sites. Unlike current DNA synthesis inhibitors, PHA-767491 prevents the activation of replication origins but does not impede replication fork progression, and it does not trigger a sustained DNA damage response. Treatment with PHA-767491 results in apoptotic cell death in multiple cancer cell types and tumor growth inhibition in preclinical cancer models. To our knowledge, PHA-767491 is the first molecule that directly affects the mechanisms controlling initiation as opposed to elongation in DNA replication, and its activities suggest that Cdc7 kinase inhibition could be a new strategy for the development of anticancer therapeutics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.90DOI Listing
June 2008

PHA-739358, a potent inhibitor of Aurora kinases with a selective target inhibition profile relevant to cancer.

Mol Cancer Ther 2007 Dec;6(12 Pt 1):3158-68

Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l.-Oncology, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

PHA-739358 is a small-molecule 3-aminopyrazole derivative with strong activity against Aurora kinases and cross-reactivities with some receptor tyrosine kinases relevant for cancer. PHA-739358 inhibits all Aurora kinase family members and shows a dominant Aurora B kinase inhibition-related cellular phenotype and mechanism of action in cells in vitro and in vivo. p53 status-dependent endoreduplication is observed upon treatment of cells with PHA-739358, and phosphorylation of histone H3 in Ser(10) is inhibited. The compound has significant antitumor activity in different xenografts and spontaneous and transgenic animal tumor models and shows a favorable pharmacokinetic and safety profile. In vivo target modulation is observed as assessed by the inhibition of the phosphorylation of histone H3, which has been validated preclinically as a candidate biomarker for the clinical phase. Pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics modeling was used to define drug potency and to support the prediction of active clinical doses and schedules. We conclude that PHA-739358, which is currently tested in clinical trials, has great therapeutic potential in anticancer therapy in a wide range of cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-0444DOI Listing
December 2007

6-Substituted pyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazoles: an improved class of CDK2 inhibitors.

ChemMedChem 2007 Jun;2(6):841-52

Oncology Business Unit, Department of Chemistry, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano MI, Italy.

We have recently reported a new class of CDK2/cyclin A inhibitors based on a bicyclic tetrahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazole scaffold. The introduction of small alkyl or cycloalkyl groups in position 6 of this scaffold allowed variation at the other two diversity points. Conventional and polymer-assisted solution phase chemistry provided a way of generating compounds with improved biochemical and cellular activity. Optimization of the physical properties and pharmacokinetic profile led to a compound which exhibited good efficacy in vivo on A2780 human ovarian carcinoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cmdc.200600302DOI Listing
June 2007

PHA-680632, a novel Aurora kinase inhibitor with potent antitumoral activity.

Clin Cancer Res 2006 Jul;12(13):4080-9

Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l.-Oncology, Milan, Italy.

Purpose: Aurora kinases play critical roles during mitosis in chromosome segregation and cell division. The aim of this study was to determine the preclinical profile of a novel, highly selective Aurora kinase inhibitor, PHA-680632, as a candidate for anticancer therapy.

Experimental Design: The activity of PHA-680632 was assayed in a biochemical ATP competitive kinase assay. A wide panel of cell lines was evaluated for antiproliferative activity. Cell cycle analysis. Immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and Array Scan were used to follow mechanism of action and biomarker modulation. Specific knockdown of the targets by small interfering RNA was followed to validate the observed phenotypes. Efficacy was determined in different xenograft models and in a transgenic animal model of breast cancer.

Results: PHA-680632 is active on a wide range of cancer cell lines and shows significant tumor growth inhibition in different animal tumor models at well-tolerated doses. The mechanism of action of PHA-680632 is in agreement with inhibition of Aurora kinases. Histone H3 phosphorylation in Ser10 is mediated by Aurora B kinase, and our kinetic studies on its inhibition by PHA-680632 in vitro and in vivo show that phosphorylation of histone H3 is a good biomarker to follow activity of PHA-680632.

Conclusions: PHA-680632 is the first representative of a new class of Aurora inhibitors with a high potential for further development as an anticancer therapeutic. On treatment, different cell lines respond differentially, suggesting the absence of critical cell cycle checkpoints that could be the basis for a favorable therapeutic window.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-05-1964DOI Listing
July 2006

Antitumor efficacy of edotecarin as a single agent and in combination with chemotherapy agents in a xenograft model.

Clin Cancer Res 2006 May;12(9):2856-61

Department of Biology, Drug Discovery Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Nerviano, Milan, Italy.

The novel indolocarbazole edotecarin (J-107088, formerly ED-749) differs from other topoisomerase I inhibitors both pharmacokinetically and pharmacodynamically. In vitro, it is more potent than camptothecins and has a variable cytotoxic activity in 31 different human cancer cell lines. Edotecarin also possesses greater than additive inhibitory effects on cell proliferation when used in combination with other agents tested in vitro against various cancer cell lines. The present in vivo studies were done to extend the in vitro findings to characterize the antitumor effects of edotecarin when used either alone or in combination with other agents (i.e., 5-fluorouracil, irinotecan, cisplatin, oxaliplatin, and SU11248) in the HCT-116 human colon cancer xenograft model. Treatment effects were based on the delay in onset of an exponential growth of tumors in drug-treated versus vehicle control-treated groups. In all studies, edotecarin was active both as a single agent and in combination with other agents. Combination therapy resulted in greater than additive effects, the extent of which depended on the specific dosage regimen. Toxicity in these experiments was minimal. Of all 359 treated mice, the six that died of toxicity were in the high-dose edotecarin/oxaliplatin group. The results suggest that edotecarin may serve as effective chemotherapy of colon cancer when used as a single agent, in combination with standard regimens and other topoisomerase inhibitors or with novel agents, such as the multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor SU11248.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-05-1859DOI Listing
May 2006

Catecholic flavonoids acting as telomerase inhibitors.

J Med Chem 2004 Dec;47(26):6466-75

Department of Chemistry, BU-Nerviano Medical Sciences, Viale Pasteur 10, 20014 Nerviano (MI), Italy.

In recent years telomerase has been identified as a new promising target in oncology and consequently new telomerase inhibitors have been intensely explored as anticancer agents. Focused screening of several polyhydroxylated flavonoids has allowed us to identify 7,8,3',4'-tetrahydroxyflavone 1 as a new telomerase inhibitor with an interesting in vitro activity in a Flash-Plate assay (IC50 = 0.2 microM) that has been confirmed in the classical TRAP assay. Starting from this compound, we developed a medicinal chemistry program to optimize our lead, and in particular to replace one of the two catechols with potential bioisosteres. From this study, new structural analogues characterized by submicromolar potencies have been obtained. Their synthesis and biological activity are described.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm040810bDOI Listing
December 2004

In vitro cell growth pharmacodynamic studies: a new nonparametric approach to determining the relative importance of drug concentration and treatment time.

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 2003 Dec 16;52(6):507-13. Epub 2003 Aug 16.

Global Drug Metabolism, Pharmacia, Via Pasteur 10, 20014, Nerviano (MI), Italy.

Purpose: The effect of an anticancer treatment on tumor cell proliferation in vitro can be described as a three-dimensional surface where the inhibitory effect is related to drug concentration and treatment time. The analysis of this kind of response surface could provide critical information: for example, it could indicate whether a prolonged exposure to a low concentration of an anticancer agent will produce a different effect from exposure to higher concentrations for a shorter period of time. The parametric approach available in the literature was not flexible enough to accommodate the behavior of the response surface in some of the data sets collected as part of our research programs. Therefore, a new, general, nonparametric approach was developed.

Methods: The response surface of the inhibition of cell-based tumor growth was described using a radial basis function neural network (RBF-NN). The RBF-NN was trained using regularization theory, which provided the initialization of a constrained quadratic optimization algorithm that imposes monotonicity of the surface with respect to both concentration and exposure time.

Results: In the two analyzed cases (doxorubicin and flavopiridol), the proposed method was accurate and reliable in describing the inhibition surface of tumor cell growth as a function of drug concentration and exposure time. Residuals were small and unbiased. The new method improved on the parametric approach when the relative importance of drug concentration and exposure time in determining the overall effect was not constant across the experimental data.

Conclusions: The proposed RBF-NN can be reliably applied for the analysis in cell-based tumor growth inhibition studies. This approach can be used for optimizing the administration regimens to be adopted in vivo. The use of this methodology can be easily extended to any cell-based experiment, in which the outcome can be seen as a function of two experimental variables.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00280-003-0688-7DOI Listing
December 2003