An Orally Available Tubulin Inhibitor, VERU-111, Suppresses Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Tumor Growth and Metastasis and Bypasses Taxane Resistance

Mol Cancer Ther. 2020 Feb;19(2):348-363. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-19-0536. Epub 2019 Oct 23.


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) accounts for approximately 15% of breast cancer cases in the United States. TNBC has poorer overall prognosis relative to other molecular subtypes due to rapid onset of drug resistance to conventional chemotherapies and increased risk of visceral metastases. Taxanes like paclitaxel are standard chemotherapies that stabilize microtubules, but their clinical efficacy is often limited by drug resistance and neurotoxicities. We evaluated the preclinical efficacy of a novel, potent, and orally bioavailable tubulin inhibitor, VERU-111, in TNBC models. VERU-111 showed potent cytotoxicity against TNBC cell lines, inducing apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest in a concentration-dependent manner. VERU-111 also efficiently inhibited colony formation, cell migration, and invasion. Orally administered VERU-111 inhibited MDA-MB-231 xenograft growth in a dose-dependent manner, with similar efficacies to paclitaxel, but without acute toxicity. VERU-111 significantly reduced metastases originating from the mammary fat pad into lung, liver, and kidney metastasis in an experimental metastasis model. Moreover, VERU-111, but not paclitaxel, suppressed growth of luciferase-labeled, taxane-resistant, patient-derived metastatic TNBC tumors. In this model, VERU-111 repressed growth of preestablished axillary lymph node metastases and lung, bone, and liver metastases at study endpoint, whereas paclitaxel enhanced liver metastases relative to vehicle controls. Collectively, these studies strongly suggest that VERU-111 is not only a potent inhibitor of aggressive TNBC phenotypes, but it is also efficacious in a taxane-resistant model of metastatic TNBC. Thus, VERU-111 is a promising new generation of tubulin inhibitor for the treatment of TNBC and may be effective in patients who progress on taxanes.Results presented in this study demonstrate the efficacy of VERU-111 in vivo and provide strong rationale for future development of VERU-111 as an effective treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Tubulin Modulators / therapeutic use*


  • Tubulin Modulators