Research Papers:

Head to head evaluation of second generation ALK inhibitors brigatinib and alectinib as first-line treatment for ALK+ NSCLC using an in silico systems biology-based approach

Enric Carcereny _, Alonso Fernández-Nistal, Araceli López, Carmen Montoto, Andrea Naves, Cristina Segú-Vergés, Mireia Coma, Guillem Jorba, Baldomero Oliva and Jose Manuel Mas

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Oncotarget. 2021; 12:316-332. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27875

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Enric Carcereny1, Alonso Fernández-Nistal2, Araceli López2, Carmen Montoto2, Andrea Naves2, Cristina Segú-Vergés3, Mireia Coma3, Guillem Jorba3,4, Baldomero Oliva4 and Jose Manuel Mas3

1 Catalan Institute of Oncology B-ARGO Group, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Spain

2 Takeda Farmacéutica España, Madrid, Spain

3 Anaxomics Biotech, Barcelona, Spain

4 Structural Bioinformatics (GRIB-IMIM), Departament de Ciències Experimentals i de la Salut, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

Correspondence to:

Enric Carcereny,email: [email protected]

Keywords: ALK inhibitor; brigatinib; alectinib; mathematical model; systems biology

Received: July 02, 2020     Accepted: December 23, 2020     Published: February 16, 2021

Copyright: © 2021 Carcereny et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Around 3–7% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which represent 85% of diagnosed lung cancers, have a rearrangement in the ALK gene that produces an abnormal activity of the ALK protein cell signaling pathway. The developed ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), such as crizotinib, ceritinib, alectinib, brigatinib and lorlatinb present good performance treating ALK+ NSCLC, although all patients invariably develop resistance due to ALK secondary mutations or bypass mechanisms. In the present study, we compare the potential differences between brigatinib and alectinib’s mechanisms of action as first-line treatment for ALK+ NSCLC in a systems biology-based in silico setting.

Therapeutic performance mapping system (TPMS) technology was used to characterize the mechanisms of action of brigatinib and alectinib and the impact of potential resistances and drug interferences with concomitant treatments.

The analyses indicate that brigatinib and alectinib affect cell growth, apoptosis and immune evasion through ALK inhibition. However, brigatinib seems to achieve a more diverse downstream effect due to a broader cancer-related kinase target spectrum. Brigatinib also shows a robust effect over invasiveness and central nervous system metastasis-related mechanisms, whereas alectinib seems to have a greater impact on the immune evasion mechanism.

Based on this in silico head to head study, we conclude that brigatinib shows a predicted efficacy similar to alectinib and could be a good candidate in a first-line setting against ALK+ NSCLC. Future investigation involving clinical studies will be needed to confirm these findings. These in silico systems biology-based models could be applied for exploring other unanswered questions.

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