Mol Cancer Ther 2017 08 3;16(8):1497-1510. Epub 2017 May 3.
Tumor Immunology, Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is initiated and maintained by leukemia stem cells (LSC). LSCs are therapy-resistant, cause relapse, and represent a major obstacle for the cure of AML. Resistance to therapy is often mediated by aberrant tyrosine kinase (TK) activation. These TKs primarily activate downstream signaling via STAT3/STAT5. In this study, we analyzed the potential to therapeutically target aberrant TK signaling and to eliminate LSCs via the multi-TK inhibitor Debio 0617B. Debio 0617B has a unique profile targeting key kinases upstream of STAT3/STAT5 signaling such as JAK, SRC, ABL, and class III/V receptor TKs. We demonstrate that expression of phospho-STAT3 (pSTAT3) in AML blasts is an independent prognostic factor for overall survival. Furthermore, phospho-STAT5 (pSTAT5) signaling is increased in primary CD34 AML stem/progenitors. STAT3/STAT5 activation depends on tyrosine phosphorylation, mediated by several upstream TKs. Inhibition of single upstream TKs did not eliminate LSCs. In contrast, the multi-TK inhibitor Debio 0617B reduced maintenance and self-renewal of primary human AML CD34 stem/progenitor cells and in xenotransplantation experiments resulting in long-term elimination of human LSCs and leukemia. Therefore, inhibition of multiple TKs upstream of STAT3/5 may result in sustained therapeutic efficacy of targeted therapy in AML and prevent relapses. .