AG-221, a First-in-Class Therapy Targeting Acute Myeloid Leukemia Harboring Oncogenic IDH2 Mutations

Cancer Discov. 2017 May;7(5):478-493. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-16-1034. Epub 2017 Feb 13.


Somatic gain-of-function mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenases (IDH) 1 and 2 are found in multiple hematologic and solid tumors, leading to accumulation of the oncometabolite (R)-2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG). 2HG competitively inhibits α-ketoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases, including histone demethylases and methylcytosine dioxygenases of the TET family, causing epigenetic dysregulation and a block in cellular differentiation. In vitro studies have provided proof of concept for mutant IDH inhibition as a therapeutic approach. We report the discovery and characterization of AG-221, an orally available, selective, potent inhibitor of the mutant IDH2 enzyme. AG-221 suppressed 2HG production and induced cellular differentiation in primary human IDH2 mutation-positive acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells ex vivo and in xenograft mouse models. AG-221 also provided a statistically significant survival benefit in an aggressive IDH2R140Q-mutant AML xenograft mouse model. These findings supported initiation of the ongoing clinical trials of AG-221 in patients with IDH2 mutation-positive advanced hematologic malignancies.Significance: Mutations in IDH1/2 are identified in approximately 20% of patients with AML and contribute to leukemia via a block in hematopoietic cell differentiation. We have shown that the targeted inhibitor AG-221 suppresses the mutant IDH2 enzyme in multiple preclinical models and induces differentiation of malignant blasts, supporting its clinical development. Cancer Discov; 7(5); 478-93. ©2017 AACR.See related commentary by Thomas and Majeti, p. 459See related article by Shih et al., p. 494This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 443.

MeSH terms

  • Aminopyridines / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Triazines / pharmacology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Aminopyridines
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Triazines
  • enasidenib
  • IDH2 protein, human
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase