Research Papers:

Acquired savolitinib resistance in non-small cell lung cancer arises via multiple mechanisms that converge on MET-independent mTOR and MYC activation

Ryan E. Henry, Evan R. Barry, Lillian Castriotta, Brendon Ladd, Aleksandra Markovets, Garry Beran, Yongxin Ren, Feng Zhou, Ammar Adam, Michael Zinda, Corinne Reimer, Weiguo Qing, Weiguo Su, Edwin Clark, Celina M. D’Cruz and Alwin G. Schuller _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:57651-57670. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10859

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Ryan E. Henry1,*, Evan R. Barry1,*, Lillian Castriotta1, Brendon Ladd1, Aleksandra Markovets1, Garry Beran2, Yongxin Ren3, Feng Zhou3, Ammar Adam1, Michael Zinda1, Corinne Reimer1, Weiguo Qing3, Weiguo Su3, Edwin Clark1, Celina M. D’Cruz1 and Alwin G. Schuller1

1 AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals PLC, Oncology Bioscience, Waltham, MA, USA

2 AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals PLC, Oncology Bioscience, Alderley Park, UK

3 Hutchison Medi Pharma Ltd, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, Shanghai, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Alwin G. Schuller, email:

Celina M. D’Cruz, email:

Keywords: MET, MYC, NSCLC, acquired resistance, savolitinib

Received: January 14, 2016 Accepted: July 13, 2016 Published: July 26, 2016


Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death globally with a significant, unmet need for more efficacious treatments. The receptor tyrosine kinase MET has been implicated as an oncogene in numerous cancer subtypes, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here we explore the therapeutic potential of savolitinib (volitinib, AZD6094, HMPL-504), a potent and selective MET inhibitor, in NSCLC. In vitro, savolitinib inhibits MET phosphorylation with nanomolar potency, which correlates with blockade of PI3K/AKT and MAPK signaling as well as MYC down-regulation. In vivo, savolitinib causes inhibition of these pathways and significantly decreases growth of MET-dependent xenografts. To understand resistance mechanisms, we generated savolitinib resistance in MET-amplified NSCLC cell lines and analyzed individual clones. We found that upregulation of MYC and constitutive mTOR pathway activation is a conserved feature of resistant clones that can be overcome by knockdown of MYC or dual mTORC1/2 inhibition. Lastly, we demonstrate that mechanisms of resistance are heterogeneous, arising via a switch to EGFR dependence or by a requirement for PIM signaling. This work demonstrates the efficacy of savolitinib in NSCLC and characterizes acquired resistance, identifying both known and novel mechanisms that may inform combination strategies in the clinic.

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