Preclinical efficacy for a novel tyrosine kinase inhibitor, ArQule 531 against acute myeloid leukemia

J Hematol Oncol. 2020 Jan 28;13(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s13045-019-0821-7.


Background: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common type of adult leukemia. Several studies have demonstrated that oncogenesis in AML is enhanced by kinase signaling pathways such as Src family kinases (SFK) including Src and Lyn, spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK), and bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK). Recently, the multi-kinase inhibitor ArQule 531 (ARQ 531) has demonstrated potent inhibition of SFK and BTK that translated to improved pre-clinical in vivo activity as compared with the irreversible BTK inhibitor ibrutinib in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) models. Given the superior activity of ARQ 531 in CLL, and recognition that this molecule has a broad kinase inhibition profile, we pursued its application in pre-clinical models of AML.

Methods: The potency of ARQ 531 was examined in vitro using FLT3 wild type and mutated (ITD) AML cell lines and primary samples. The modulation of pro-survival kinases following ARQ 531 treatment was determined using AML cell lines. The effect of SYK expression on ARQ 531 potency was evaluated using a SYK overexpressing cell line (Ba/F3 murine cells) constitutively expressing FLT3-ITD. Finally, the in vivo activity of ARQ 531 was evaluated using MOLM-13 disseminated xenograft model.

Results: Our data demonstrate that ARQ 531 treatment has anti-proliferative activity in vitro and impairs colony formation in AML cell lines and primary AML cells independent of the presence of a FLT3 ITD mutation. We demonstrate decreased phosphorylation of oncogenic kinases targeted by ARQ 531, including SFK (Tyr416), BTK, and fms-related tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3), ultimately leading to changes in down-stream targets including SYK, STAT5a, and ERK1/2. Based upon in vitro drug synergy data, we examined ARQ 531 in the MOLM-13 AML xenograft model alone and in combination with venetoclax. Despite ARQ 531 having a less favorable pharmacokinetics profile in rodents, we demonstrate modest single agent in vivo activity and synergy with venetoclax.

Conclusions: Our data support consideration of the application of ARQ 531 in combination trials for AML targeting higher drug concentrations in vivo.

Keywords: Acute myeloid leukemia; ArQule 531; Multi-kinase inhibitor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / metabolism
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology
  • Mice
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases