The AXL receptor tyrosine kinase is involved in signal transduction in malignant cells. Recent studies have shown that the AXL upregulation underlies epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) resistance in EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In this study, we investigated the effect of DS-1205b, a novel and selective inhibitor of AXL, on tumor growth and resistance to EGFR TKIs. In AXL-overexpressing NIH3T3 cells, DS-1205b potently inhibited hGAS6 ligand-induced migration in vitro and exerted significant antitumor activity in vivo. AXL was upregulated by long-term erlotinib or osimertinib treatment in HCC827 EGFR-mutant NSCLC cells, and DS-1205b treatment in combination with osimertinib or erlotinib effectively inhibited signaling downstream of EGFR in a cell-based assay. In an HCC827 EGFR-mutant NSCLC xenograft mouse model, combination treatment with DS-1205b and erlotinib significantly delayed the onset of tumor resistance compared to erlotinib monotherapy, and DS-1205b restored the antitumor activity of erlotinib in erlotinib-resistant tumors. DS-1205b also delayed the onset of resistance when used in combination with osimertinib in the model. These findings strongly suggest that DS-1205b can prolong the therapeutic benefit of EGFR TKIs in nonclinical as well as clinical settings.
Keywords: AXL; DS-1205; EGFR-TKI resistance; erlotinib; osimertinib.