The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway is frequently activated in human cancers due to genetic alterations that can occur at multiple nodes in the pathway, the most prevalent of which are mutations in RAS or BRAF. While BRAFV600 mutant tumors are effectively treated with existing RAF inhibitors, RAS mutant cancers and tumors expressing atypical BRAF mutants remain an unmet medical need. Emerging biology has demonstrated that the CRAF kinase functions as a critical mediator of mutant KRAS-driven cell proliferation and tumor development. CRAF was also shown to be the mediator of feedback-mediated pathway reactivation following MEK inhibitor treatment in KRAS mutant cancers. Hence selective inhibitors that potently inhibit the activity of CRAF could be both effective in blocking mutant RAS-driven tumorigenesis and in alleviating feedback activation. We have developed a type II ATP-competitive inhibitor that inhibits both B- and CRAF kinase activities at picomolar IC50 values in biochemical assays with high selectivity profile against a panel of 456 human kinases. The inhibitor not only inhibits MAPK signaling activity in tumor models harboring BRAFV600 mutation, but also inhibits mutant N- and KRAS-driven signaling with minimum paradoxical activation, likely due to its activity in inhibiting both RAF monomers and dimers with similar potencies. Correspondingly, profiling data of the inhibitor in a panel of 480 human cancer cell lines shows that it has higher antitumor activities in cell lines harboring BRAF or RAS mutations as compared to those that are wild-type. The inhibitor is orally bioavailable, it demonstrates a direct PK/PD relationship and causes tumor regression in multiple cell line and primary human tumor derived xenograft models that have BRAF, NRAS or KRAS mutations with good tolerability. Thus, we have developed a next generation RAF inhibitor with unique biochemical and cellular properties that enables its antitumor activities in RAS mutant tumors.

Citation Format: Wenlin Shao, Yuji Mishina, Yun Feng, Giordano Caponigro, Savithri Ramurthy, Vesselina Cooke, Lesley Griner, Gisele Nishiguchi, Alice Rico, Ben Taft, Matthew Burger, Huw Tanner, Valery Polyakov, Brent Appleton, John Tellew, Richard Zang, Mohammad Hekmat-Nejad, Payman Amiri, Mallika Singh, Darrin Stuart. Development of a highly selective B/CRAF kinase inhibitor that exhibits antitumor activities in RAS and BRAF mutant tumors with minimal paradoxical activation. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2016 Apr 16-20; New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract nr 330.