PI3K inhibitors in hematology: When one door closes…

Clin Cancer Res. 2024 Jul 5. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-24-0967. Online ahead of print.


The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway regulates key cellular processes and is one of the most aberrantly activated pathways in cancer. The class I PI3K catalytic subunits p110g and p110d are highly enriched in leukocytes, providing additional rationale for targeting these PI3Ks in hematologic malignancies. In 2014, the PI3Kd inhibitor idelalisib was the first of four PI3K inhibitors to receive regulatory approval for relapsed B-cell malignancies. This was followed by approvals of the pan-class I inhibitor copanlisib (2017), the dual PI3Kg/d inhibitor duvelisib (2018), and the PI3Kd and casein kinase-1e inhibitor umbralisib (2021). Copanlisib and umbralisib received accelerated approvals, while idelalisib and duvelisib received initial accelerated approvals followed by full approvals. The accelerated approvals were based on overall response rates, however follow-up studies showed increased risk of death and serious side effects. Furthermore, the confirmatory trial with copanlisib failed to show an improvement in progression free survival when compared to chemoimmunotherapy. These developments led to black box warnings for idelalisib and duvelisib, and withdrawal of copanlisib and umbralisib from the market by their manufacturers. Given the uncertain future of this drug class, additional manufacturers terminated ongoing phase III trials with novel PI3K inhibitors. Here, we review the development and current status of PI3K inhibitors in hematology, limitations to their use, and our perspective on whether there is a future for PI3K inhibitors in hematology.