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Rapid resistance of FGFR-driven gastric cancers to regorafenib and targeted FGFR inhibitors can be overcome by parallel inhibition of MEK

Authors: Mariadason, John M.; Lau, David K; Luk, Ian Y; Jenkins, Laura J.; Martin, Andrew; Williams, David S.; Schoffer, Kael L; Chionh, Fiona; Buchert, Michael; Sjoquist, Katrin; Boussioutas, Alex; Hayes, Sarah A; Ernst, Matthias; Weickhardt, Andrew J; Pavlakis, Nick; Tebbutt, Niall C

Online: http://mct.aacrjournals.org/lookup/doi/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-20-0836

Issue: Mol Cancer Ther . 2021 Apr;20(4):704-715.


Amplification or overexpression of the FGFR family of receptor tyrosine kinases occurs in a significant proportion of gastric cancers. Regorafenib is a multikinase inhibitor of angiogenic and oncogenic kinases, including FGFR, which showed activity in the randomized phase II INTEGRATE clinical trial in advanced gastric cancer. There are currently no biomarkers that predict response to this agent, and whether regorafenib is preferentially active in FGFR-driven cancers is unknown. Through screening 25 gastric cancer cell lines, we identified five cell lines that were exquisitely sensitive to regorafenib, four of which harbored amplification or overexpression of FGFR family members. These four cell lines were also sensitive to the FGFR-specific inhibitors, BGJ398, erdafitinib, and TAS-120. Regorafenib inhibited FGFR-driven MAPK signaling in these cell lines, and knockdown studies confirmed their dependence on specific FGFRs for proliferation. In the INTEGRATE trial cohort, amplification or overexpression of FGFRs 1-4 was detected in 8%-19% of cases, however, this was not associated with improved progression-free survival and no objective responses were observed in these cases. Further preclinical analyses revealed FGFR-driven gastric cancer cell lines rapidly reactivate MAPK/ERK signaling in response to FGFR inhibition, which may underlie the limited clinical response to regorafenib. Importantly, combination treatment with an FGFR and MEK inhibitor delayed MAPK/ERK reactivation and synergistically inhibited proliferation of FGFR-driven gastric cancer cell lines. These findings suggest that upfront combinatorial inhibition of FGFR and MEK may represent a more effective treatment strategy for FGFR-driven gastric cancers.