Purpose: Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is the most frequently mutated oncogene in the pediatric cancer neuroblastoma. We performed an in vitro screen for synergistic drug combinations that target neuroblastomas with mutations in ALK to determine whether drug combinations could enhance antitumor efficacy.
Experimental Design: We screened combinations of eight molecularly targeted agents against 17 comprehensively characterized human neuroblastoma-derived cell lines. We investigated the combination of ceritinib and ribociclib on in vitro proliferation, cell cycle, viability, caspase activation, and the cyclin D/CDK4/CDK6/RB and pALK signaling networks in cell lines with representative ALK status. We performed in vivo trials in CB17 SCID mice bearing conventional and patient-derived xenograft models comparing ceritinib alone, ribociclib alone, and the combination, with plasma pharmacokinetics to evaluate for drug–drug interactions.
Results: The combination of ribociclib, a dual inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4 and 6, and the ALK inhibitor ceritinib demonstrated higher cytotoxicity (P = 0.008) and synergy scores (P = 0.006) in cell lines with ALK mutations as compared with cell lines lacking mutations or alterations in ALK. Compared with either drug alone, combination therapy enhanced growth inhibition, cell-cycle arrest, and caspase-independent cell death. Combination therapy achieved complete regressions in neuroblastoma xenografts with ALK-F1174L and F1245C de novo resistance mutations and prevented the emergence of resistance. Murine ribociclib and ceritinib plasma concentrations were unaltered by combination therapy.
Conclusions: This preclinical combination drug screen with in vivo validation has provided the rationale for a first-in-children trial of combination ceritinib and ribociclib in a molecularly selected pediatric population. Clin Cancer Res; 1–13. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Clinical Cancer Research Online (http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received May 1, 2016.
- Revision received November 29, 2016.
- Accepted December 1, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.