The PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway plays a fundamental role in cell proliferation, growth and survival and aberrant activation of this signaling pathway has been shown to drive the progression of malignant tumors. Drugs targeting the pathway at multiple points, such as dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors appear to have the broadest activity profile to address cancer therapeutic strategies and are currently being explored in numerous clinical studies. Recently, we presented PQR309, a novel, brain-penetrant pan-PI3K/mTOR inhibitor, which entered phase II clinical trials in 2016. Here, we report the lead optimization of PQR530, a potent and brain-penetrant follow-up compound as pan-PI3K/mTORC1/2 inhibitor.
The development of a follow-up compound concentrated on the improvement of both, the potency and the selectivity for all targeted kinases, namely the class IA PI3K isoforms as well as mTOR. We present a detailed ligand-based structure-activity relationship study which was obtained by systematic modifications of the hinge region as well as the affinity binding substituents. This study led to the identification of PQR530, a dual pan-PI3K/mTORC1/2 inhibitor showing excellent activities in cellular assays as well as in PI3Kα and mTOR enzymatic binding assays.
In A2058 melanoma cells PQR530 inhibited protein kinase B (PKB, pSer473) and ribosomal protein S6 (pS6, pSer235/236) phosphorylation with IC50 values of 0.07 µM. PQR530 showed excellent selectivity over a wide panel of kinases, as well as excellent selectivity versus unrelated receptor enzymes and ion channels. Moreover, PQR530 displayed potency in a panel of 44 cancer cell lines (NTRC OncolinesTM) to prevent cancer cell growth (mean value for GI50 of 426 nM). Oral application of PQR530 to mice resulted in a dose-proportional PK and demonstrated good oral bioavailability and excellent brain penetration.
An optimized, robust synthetic route allowed rapid access to multi-gram quantities of PQR530 for pre-clinical development in only 4 steps. In conclusion, PQR530 inhibits all PI3K isoforms and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complexes C1/2 potently and selectively, and shows anti-tumor effects in vitro and in vivo.
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 V. Cmiljanovic et. al. “PQR309: Structure-Based Design, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of a Novel, Selective, Dual Pan-PI3K/mTOR Inhibitor” presented at AACR Annual Meeting 2015, April 18-22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
 P. Hillmann et al. “Pharmacological Characterization of the Selective, Orally Bioavailable, Potent Dual PI3K/mTORC1/2 Inhibitor PQR530” abstract submitted for AACR Annual Meeting 2017, April 1-5, Washington, D. C., USA.
Citation Format: Denise Rageot, Florent Beaufils, Anna Melone, Alexander M. Sele, Thomas Bohnacker, Marc Lang, Jürgen Mestan, Petra Hillmann, Paul Hebeisen, Doriano Fabbro, Matthias P. Wymann. Discovery and biological evaluation of PQR530, a highly potent dual pan-PI3K/mTORC1/2 inhibitor [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 140. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2017-140