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      Vemurafenib: an evidence-based review of its clinical utility in the treatment of metastatic melanoma

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          Abstract

          The discovery of BRAF mutations in the majority of patients with metastatic melanoma combined with the identification of highly selective BRAF inhibitors have revolutionized the treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma. The first highly specific BRAF inhibitor, vemurafenib, began clinical testing in 2008 and moved towards a rapid approval in 2011. Vemurafenib induced responses in ~50% of patients with metastatic BRAF-mutant melanoma and demonstrated improved overall survival in a randomized Phase III trial. Furthermore, vemurafenib is well-tolerated with a low toxicity profile and rapid onset of action. Finally, vemurafenib is active even in patients with widely metastatic disease. Despite the success of vemurafenib in treating patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma, most, if not all, patients ultimately develop resistance resulting in disease progression at a median time of ~6 months. Multiple mechanisms of resistance have been described and rationale strategies are underway to combat resistance. This review highlights the development, clinical utility, resistance mechanisms, and future use of vemurafenib both in melanoma and other malignancies. We consulted PubMed, Scopus, MEDLINE, ASCO annual symposium abstracts, and http://clinicaltrials.gov/ for the purpose of this review.

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          Most cited references 53

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          Melanomas acquire resistance to B-RAF(V600E) inhibition by RTK or N-RAS upregulation.

          Activating B-RAF(V600E) (also known as BRAF) kinase mutations occur in ∼7% of human malignancies and ∼60% of melanomas. Early clinical experience with a novel class I RAF-selective inhibitor, PLX4032, demonstrated an unprecedented 80% anti-tumour response rate among patients with B-RAF(V600E)-positive melanomas, but acquired drug resistance frequently develops after initial responses. Hypotheses for mechanisms of acquired resistance to B-RAF inhibition include secondary mutations in B-RAF(V600E), MAPK reactivation, and activation of alternative survival pathways. Here we show that acquired resistance to PLX4032 develops by mutually exclusive PDGFRβ (also known as PDGFRB) upregulation or N-RAS (also known as NRAS) mutations but not through secondary mutations in B-RAF(V600E). We used PLX4032-resistant sub-lines artificially derived from B-RAF(V600E)-positive melanoma cell lines and validated key findings in PLX4032-resistant tumours and tumour-matched, short-term cultures from clinical trial patients. Induction of PDGFRβ RNA, protein and tyrosine phosphorylation emerged as a dominant feature of acquired PLX4032 resistance in a subset of melanoma sub-lines, patient-derived biopsies and short-term cultures. PDGFRβ-upregulated tumour cells have low activated RAS levels and, when treated with PLX4032, do not reactivate the MAPK pathway significantly. In another subset, high levels of activated N-RAS resulting from mutations lead to significant MAPK pathway reactivation upon PLX4032 treatment. Knockdown of PDGFRβ or N-RAS reduced growth of the respective PLX4032-resistant subsets. Overexpression of PDGFRβ or N-RAS(Q61K) conferred PLX4032 resistance to PLX4032-sensitive parental cell lines. Importantly, MAPK reactivation predicts MEK inhibitor sensitivity. Thus, melanomas escape B-RAF(V600E) targeting not through secondary B-RAF(V600E) mutations but via receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)-mediated activation of alternative survival pathway(s) or activated RAS-mediated reactivation of the MAPK pathway, suggesting additional therapeutic strategies.
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            COT/MAP3K8 drives resistance to RAF inhibition through MAP kinase pathway reactivation

            Oncogenic mutations in the serine/threonine kinase B-RAF are found in 50–70% of malignant melanomas1. Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that the B-RAFV600E mutation predicts a dependency on the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascade in melanoma1–5—an observation that has been validated by the success of RAF and MEK inhibitors in clinical trials6–8. However, clinical responses to targeted anticancer therapeutics are frequently confounded by de novo or acquired resistance9–11. Identification of resistance mechanisms in a manner that elucidates alternative ‘druggable’ targets may inform effective long-term treatment strategies12. Here, we expressed ~600 kinase and kinase-related open reading frames (ORFs) in parallel to functionally interrogate resistance to a selective RAF kinase inhibitor. We identified MAP3K8 (COT/TPL2) as a MAPK pathway agonist that drives resistance to RAF inhibition in B-RAFV600E cell lines. COT activates ERK primarily through MEK-dependent mechanisms that do not require RAF signaling. Moreover, COT expression is associated with de novo resistance in B-RAFV600E cultured cell lines and acquired resistance in melanoma cells and tissue obtained from relapsing patients following treatment with MEK or RAF inhibition. We further identify combinatorial MAPK pathway inhibition or targeting of COT kinase activity as possible therapeutic strategies for reducing MAPK pathway activation in this setting. Together, these results provide new insights into resistance mechanisms involving the MAPK pathway and articulate an integrative approach through which high-throughput functional screens may inform the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
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              Acquired resistance to BRAF inhibitors mediated by a RAF kinase switch in melanoma can be overcome by cotargeting MEK and IGF-1R/PI3K.

              BRAF is an attractive target for melanoma drug development. However, resistance to BRAF inhibitors is a significant clinical challenge. We describe a model of resistance to BRAF inhibitors developed by chronic treatment of BRAF(V)⁶⁰⁰(E) melanoma cells with the BRAF inhibitor SB-590885; these cells are cross-resistant to other BRAF-selective inhibitors. Resistance involves flexible switching among the three RAF isoforms, underscoring the ability of melanoma cells to adapt to pharmacological challenges. IGF-1R/PI3K signaling was enhanced in resistant melanomas, and combined treatment with IGF-1R/PI3K and MEK inhibitors induced death of BRAF inhibitor-resistant cells. Increased IGF-1R and pAKT levels in a post-relapse human tumor sample are consistent with a role for IGF-1R/PI3K-dependent survival in the development of resistance to BRAF inhibitors. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                1177-8881
                2014
                16 June 2014
                : 8
                : 775-787
                Affiliations
                Department of Hematology and Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Richard W Joseph, Department of Hematology and Oncology, Mayo Clinic, 4500 San Pablo Road, Jacksonville, FL 32224, USA, Tel +1 904 953 8508, Fax +1 904 953 8508, Email joseph.richard@ 123456mayo.edu
                Article
                dddt-8-775
                10.2147/DDDT.S31143
                4064951
                © 2014 Swaika et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Categories
                Review

                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine

                immunotherapy, brafv600e, vemurafenib, resistance

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