Lysine specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) is a histone H3K4me1/2 demethylase found in various transcriptional co-repressor complexes. LSD1 mediated H3K4 demethylation can result in a repressive chromatin environment that silences gene expression and has been shown to play a role in hematopoietic differentiation. LSD1 is also overexpressed in multiple tumor types. These studies implicate LSD1 as a key regulator of the epigenome that modulates gene expression through post-translational modification of histones and its presence in transcriptional complexes.

The current study describes the anti-tumor effects of a novel, irreversible, GSK LSD1 inhibitor (GSK2879552) in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). GSK2879552 is a potent, selective, mechanism-based inhibitor of LSD1. Screening of over 150 cancer cell lines revealed that AML and SCLC cells have a unique requirement for LSD1. While GSK2879552 treatment did not affect the global levels of H3K4me1 or H3K4me2, local changes in these histone marks were observed near transcriptional start sites of genes whose expression increased with LSD1 inhibition. Treatment of AML cell lines with GSK2879552 increased cell surface expression of CD11b and CD86, markers associated with a differentiated immunophenotype.

Six days of GSK2879552 treatment resulted in potent anti-proliferative growth effects in 19 of 25 AML cell lines representing a range of AML subtypes. Treating for longer time periods revealed sensitivity in all AML cell lines. AML blast colony forming ability was also inhibited in 4 of 5 bone marrow samples derived from primary AML patient samples. The effects of LSD1 inhibition were further characterized in vivo using a mouse model of AML induced by transduction of mouse hematopoietic progenitor cells with a retrovirus encoding MLL-AF9 and GFP. Primary AML cells were transplanted into a cohort of secondary recipient mice and were treated upon engraftment. After 17 days of treatment, control mice had 80% GFP+ cells in the bone marrow whereas treated mice had only 2.8% GFP positive cells (p<0.012), and the treated animals survived weeks beyond control mice.

Growth inhibition was also observed in a subset of SCLC cell lines.

GSK2879552 treatment of mice engrafted with SCLC lines resulted in greater than 80% tumor growth inhibition. Studies using patient derived primary SCLC showed similar efficacy demonstrating the growth inhibition of SCLC with an LSD1 inhibitor extended beyond cell lines.

Together, these data demonstrate that pharmacological inhibition of LSD1 may provide a promising treatment for AML and SCLC. A Phase I clinical trial using GSK2879552 was initiated in March, 2014.

All studies were conducted in accordance with the GSK Policy on the Care, Welfare and Treatment of Laboratory Animals and were reviewed by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee either at GSK or by the ethical review process at the institution where the work was performed.

Citation Format: Kimberly Smitheman, Monica Cusan, Yan Liu, Michael Butticello, Melissa Pappalardi, James Foley, Kelly Federowicz, Glenn Van Aller, Jiri Kasparec, Xinrong Tian, Dominic Suarez, Jess Schneck, Jeff Carson, Patrick McDevitt, Thau Ho, Charles McHugh, William Miller, Scott Armstrong, Christine Hann, Neil Johnson, Ryan G. Kruger, Helai P. Mohammad, Shekhar Kamat. Inhibition of LSD1 for the treatment of cancer. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 3513. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-3513