Anthracycline-based regimens are a mainstay of early breast cancer therapy, however their use is limited by cardiac toxicity. The potential for cardiotoxicity is a major consideration in the design and development of combinatorial therapies incorporating anthracyclines and agents that target the HER2-mediated signaling pathway, such as trastuzumab. In this regard, HER2-targeted liposomal doxorubicin was developed to provide clinical benefit by both reducing the cardiotoxicity observed with anthracyclines and enhancing the therapeutic potential of HER2-based therapies that are currently available for HER2-overexpressing cancers. While documenting the enhanced therapeutic potential of HER2-targeted liposomal doxorubicin can be done with existing models, there has been no validated human cardiac cell-based assay system to rigorously assess the cardiotoxicity of anthracyclines. To understand if HER2-targeting of liposomal doxorubicin is possible with a favorable cardiac safety profile, we applied a human stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte platform to evaluate the doxorubicin exposure of human cardiac cells to HER2-targeted liposomal doxorubicin. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first known application of a stem cell-derived system for evaluating preclinical cardiotoxicity of an investigational agent. We demonstrate that HER2-targeted liposomal doxorubicin has little or no uptake into human cardiomyocytes, does not inhibit HER2-mediated signaling, results in little or no evidence of cardiomyocyte cell death or dysfunction, and retains the low penetration into heart tissue of liposomal doxorubicin. Taken together, this data ultimately led to the clinical decision to advance this drug to Phase I clinical testing, which is now ongoing as a single agent in HER2-expressing cancers.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.