Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of primary liver cancer with limited treatment options for advanced stage disease. Thus, there is a critical medical need for improved therapies. In approximately 10% of HCC, a focal amplicon at 11q13 harboring FGF19 has been reported. High levels of FGF19 have been shown to drive HCC tumor development and progression in preclinical models, suggesting that selective targeting of FGFR4, a high affinity receptor for FGF19, may be efficacious in these HCC tumors. INCB062079 a potent and selective irreversible inhibitor of FGFR4 (>250-fold vs FGFR1/2/3) suppresses the growth of HCC cell lines driven by amplification and overexpression of FGF19. In subcutaneous xenograft models of HCC, oral dosing of INCB062079 at tolerated doses resulted in dose-dependent inhibition of tumor growth with regressions observed at higher doses consistent with inhibition of FGFR4 signaling in the tumors. In combination with sorafenib, the only approved targeted therapy for HCC, FGFR4 inhibition exhibited additive tumor growth inhibition in the Huh7 model. To assess exposure of INCB062079 in orthotopic tumors after oral dosing, Hep3B tumors were implanted surgically into the liver and their development monitored by analysis of plasma alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). At efficacious doses, INCB062079 strongly suppressed the levels of AFP and FGF19 secreted by the tumors, and their levels correlated well with the reduction in terminal liver tumor mass, suggesting that these may be surrogate markers for response of HCC tumors to INCB062079. In two PDX models of HCC with amplification of FGF19 (4-6 CNV), INCB062079 administration reduced tumor growth by 50-66% at doses that were well tolerated. Additional surrogate markers for FGFR4 inhibition were explored including several parameters related to FGF19 regulation of bile acid metabolism. The mRNA levels of CYP7A1, encoding cholesterol 7a-hydroxlyase, the rate limiting enzyme in bile acid synthesis, were induced in the livers of cynomolgus monkeys upon dosing with INCB062079. Correspondingly there was a dose-dependent increase in fecal bile acids. In summary these data demonstrate that INCB062079 is highly and selectively efficacious in models of HCC with FGF19-FGFR4 oncogene addiction and elicits pharmacodynamic responses in primates providing support for the clinical evaluation of INCB062079 in genetically selected liver cancer patients.

Citation Format: Bruce Ruggeri, Matthew Stubbs, Yan-ou Yang, Ashish Juvekar, Liang Lu, Sindy Condon, Darlise DiMatteo, Xiaoming Wen, Paul Collier, Timothy Burn, Liangxing Wu, Daniel Wilson, Swamy Yeleswaram, Alan Roberts, Wenqing Yao, Gregory Hollis, Reid Huber, Peggy Scherle, Phillip CC Liu. The novel FGFR4-selective inhibitor INCB062079 is efficacious in models of hepatocellular carcinoma harboring FGF19 amplification [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017; 2017 Apr 1-5; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2017;77(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 1234. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2017-1234