Activation of the Ras/Raf/MEK/MAP kinase pathway is implicated in uncontrolled cell proliferation and tumor growth. Inappropriate activation of the RAS pathway can occur through several distinct mechanisms, including activating mutations in Ras and B-raf, or activated growth factor-signaling, cytokines and stress responses. Mutated, oncogenic forms of Ras are found in 50% of colon, 90% of pancreatic, and 30% of lung cancers. Also, B-Raf mutations have been identified in more than 60% of malignant melanomas and from 40-70% of papillary thyroid cancers. MEK, a dual specific kinase, is a key player in this pathway; it is downstream of both Ras and Raf and activates ERK1/2 through phosphorylation of key tyrosine and threonine residues. These data suggest that targeting MEK can inhibit cancer cell signaling mediated by a wide variety of signals, making MEK an attractive target for the treatment of cancer.

We have discovered ARRY-162, a novel ATP-uncompetitive inhibitor of MEK 1/2, which is un-competitive with respect to ATP. ARRY-162 has nanomolar activity against purified MEK enzyme (IC50 = 12 nM) and is highly selective. It has been evaluated against 220 serine/threonine and tyrosine kinases with no inhibitory activity observed up to 20 μM. ARRY-162 inhibits both basal and induced levels of ERK phosphorylation in numerous cancer cell lines with IC50s as low as 5 nM. ARRY-162 is especially potent at inhibiting the cell proliferation of mutant B-Raf and Ras cell lines such as HT29, Malme-3M, SK-MEL-2, COLO 205, SK-MEL-28 and A375 (IC50s from 30-250 nM). In vivo, ARRY-162 has demonstrated efficacy in several xenograft tumor models in mice, including HT29, BxPC3, MIA PaCa2, A549, LoVo, Calu6, DU145 and COLO 205. In the HT29 and in the COLO 205 colon carcinoma models, dose-dependent inhibition of tumor growth (up to 75% TGI) was observed at doses ranging from 3 to 30 mg/kg, QD, PO for 21 days. In the Colo-205 colon carcinoma model, significant tumor regressions were observed with 50% partial responses and 13% complete responses at 30 mg/kg, PO, QD. In the BxPC3 pancreatic carcinoma model (which does not harbor either Ras or Raf mutations), tumor growth inhibition (∼70% TGI) and 13% partial responses were seen at doses of 30 mg/kg, QD, PO for 21 days. Consistent with ARRY-162's mechanism of action, tumor growth inhibition correlates with decreased phospho-ERK levels in tumor xenografts. In addition to its potency against MEK, this compound demonstrates other desirable attributes for development including good physical chemical characteristics, low clearance, medium-to-high Caco-2 permeability and minimal predicted drug-drug interactions. With preclinical efficacy and safety studies on ARRY-162 completed, this compound has entered clinical development for treatment of cancer.

Citation Format: {Authors}. {Abstract title} [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2010 Apr 17-21; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2010;70(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 2515.