Recent strategies for treating CML patients have focused on investigating new combinations of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) as well as identifying novel translational research agents that can eradicate CML leukemia-initiating cells (CML-LICs). However, little is known about the therapeutic benefits such CML-LIC targeting therapies might bring to CML patients. In this study, we investigated the therapeutic potential of EW-7197, an orally bioavailable transforming growth factor-β signaling inhibitor which has recently been approved as an Investigational New Drug (NIH, USA), to suppress CML-LICs in vivo. Compared to TKI treatment alone, administration of TKI plus EW-7197 to CML-affected mice significantly delayed disease relapse and prolonged survival. Notably, combined treatment with EW-7197 plus TKI was effective in eliminating CML-LICs even if they expressed the TKI-resistant T315I mutant BCR-ABL1 oncogene. Collectively, these results indicate that EW-7197 may be a promising candidate for a new therapeutic that can greatly benefit CML patients by working in combination with TKIs to eradicate CML-LICs.
Keywords: ALK5 inhibitor; CML stem cells; TGF-β signaling; TKI resistance; relapse prevention.
© 2015 The Authors. Cancer Science published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Japanese Cancer Association.