Research Papers:

Antitumor activity of a potent MEK inhibitor, TAK-733, against colorectal cancer cell lines and patient derived xenografts

Christopher H. Lieu _, Peter J. Klauck, Patrick K. Henthorn, John J. Tentler, Aik-Choon Tan, Anna Spreafico, Heather M. Selby, Blair C. Britt, Stacey M. Bagby, John J. Arcaroli, Wells A. Messersmith, Todd M. Pitts and S. Gail Eckhardt

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:34561-34572. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5949

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Christopher H. Lieu1, Peter J. Klauck1, Patrick K. Henthorn1, John J. Tentler1, Aik-Choon Tan1, Anna Spreafico1, Heather M. Selby1, Blair C. Britt1, Stacey M. Bagby1, John J. Arcaroli1, Wells A. Messersmith1, Todd M. Pitts1 and S. Gail Eckhardt1

1 Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA

Correspondence to:

Christopher H. Lieu, email:

Keywords: MEK, colorectal cancer, patient derived xenografts, TAK-733

Received: August 09, 2015 Accepted: September 05, 2015 Published: October 01, 2015


Background: CRC is a significant cause of cancer mortality, and new therapies are needed for patients with advanced disease. TAK-733 is a highly potent and selective investigational novel MEK allosteric site inhibitor.

Materials and Methods: In a preclinical study of TAK-733, a panel of CRC cell lines were exposed to varying concentrations of the agent for 72 hours followed by a sulforhodamine B assay. Twenty patient-derived colorectal cancer xenografts were then treated with TAK-733 in vivo. Tumor growth inhibition index (TGII) was assessed to evaluate the sensitivity of the CRC explants to TAK-733 while linear regression was utilized to investigate the predictive effects of genotype on the TGII of explants.

Results: Fifty-four CRC cell lines were exposed to TAK-733, while 42 cell lines were deemed sensitive across a broad range of mutations. Eighty-two percent of the cell lines within the sensitive subset were BRAF or KRAS/NRAS mutant, whereas 80% of the cell lines within the sensitive subset were PIK3CA WT. Twenty patient-derived human tumor CRC explants were then treated with TAK-733. In total, 15 primary human tumor explants were found to be sensitive to TAK-733 (TGII ≤ 20%), including 9 primary human tumor explants that exhibited tumor regression (TGII > 100%). Explants with a BRAF/KRAS/NRAS mutant and PIK3CA wild-type genotype demonstrated increased sensitivity to TAK-733 with a median TGII of -6%. MEK-response gene signatures also correlated with responsiveness to TAK-733 in KRAS-mutant CRC.

Conclusions: The MEK inhibitor TAK-733 demonstrated robust antitumor activity against CRC cell lines and patient-derived tumor explants. While the preclinical activity observed in this study was considerable, single-agent efficacy in the clinic has been limited in CRC, supporting the use of these models in an iterative manner to elucidate resistance mechanisms that can guide rational combination strategies.

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