The ERK pathway is critical in oncogenesis; aberrations in components of this pathway are common in approximately 30% of human cancers. ERK1/2 (ERK) regulates cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival and is the terminal node of the pathway. BRAF- and MEK-targeted therapies are effective in BRAF V600E/K metastatic melanoma and lung cancers; however, responses are short-lived due to emergence of resistance. Reactivation of ERK signaling is central to the mechanisms of acquired resistance. Therefore, ERK inhibition provides an opportunity to overcome resistance and leads to improved efficacy. In addition, KRAS-mutant cancers remain an unmet medical need in which ERK inhibitors may provide treatment options alone or in combination with other agents. Here, we report identification and activity of LY3214996, a potent, selective, ATP-competitive ERK inhibitor. LY3214996 treatment inhibited the pharmacodynamic biomarker, phospho-p90RSK1, in cells and tumors, and correlated with LY3214996 exposures and antitumor activities. In in vitro cell proliferation assays, sensitivity to LY3214996 correlated with ERK pathway aberrations. LY3214996 showed dose-dependent tumor growth inhibition and regression in xenograft models harboring ERK pathway alterations. Importantly, more than 50% target inhibition for up to 8 to 16 hours was sufficient for significant tumor growth inhibition as single agent in BRAF- and KRAS-mutant models. LY3214996 also exhibited synergistic combination benefit with a pan-RAF inhibitor in a KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer xenograft model. Furthermore, LY3214996 demonstrated antitumor activity in BRAF-mutant models with acquired resistance in vitro and in vivo. Based on these preclinical data, LY3214996 has advanced to an ongoing phase I clinical trial (NCT02857270).
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.