Dysregulated fatty acid metabolism is thought to be a hallmark of cancer, wherein fatty acids function both as an energy source and as signals for enzymatic and transcriptional networks contributing to malignancy. Fatty acid-binding protein 5 (FABP5) is an intracellular protein that facilitates transport of fatty acids and plays a role in regulating the expression of genes associated with cancer progression such as cell growth, survival, and metastasis. Overexpression of FABP5 has been reported to contribute to an aggressive phenotype and a poor survival correlation in several cancers. Therefore, inhibition of FABP5 is considered as a therapeutic approach for cancers. Phenotypic screening of a library of covalent compounds for selective sensitivity of cancer cells followed by medicinal chemistry optimization resulted in the identification of AUR104 with desirable properties. Chemoproteomic-based target deconvolution revealed FABP5 as the cellular target of AUR104. Covalent adduct formation with Cys43 of FABP5 by AUR104 was confirmed by mass spectrometry. Target occupancy studies using a biotin-tagged AUR104 demonstrated potent covalent binding to FABP5 in both cell-free and cellular conditions. Ligand displacement assay with a fluorescent fatty acid probe confirmed the competitive binding mode of AUR104 with fatty acids. Binding at the fatty acid site and covalent bond formation with Cys43 were also demonstrated by crystallography. Furthermore, AUR104 showed a high degree of selectivity against a broad safety pharmacology panel of enzymes and receptors. AUR104 exhibited potent anti-proliferative activity in a large panel of cell lines derived from both hematological and solid cancers with a high degree of selectivity over normal cells. Anti-proliferative activity in lymphoma cell lines correlated with inhibition of MALT1 pathway activity, cleavage of RelB/Bcl10 and secretion of cytokines, IL-10 and IL-6. AUR104 displayed desirable drug-like properties and dose-dependent oral exposure in pharmacokinetic studies. Oral dosing with AUR104 resulted in dose-dependent anti-tumor activity in DLBCL (OCI-LY10) and NSCLC (NCI-H1975) xenograft models. In a repeated dose MTD studies in rodents and non-rodents, AUR104 showed good tolerability with an exposure multiple of >500 over cellular EC50 for up to 8 hours. In summary, we have identified a novel covalent FABP5 inhibitor with optimized properties that showed anti-tumor activity in in vitro and in vivo models with acceptable safety profile. The data presented here strongly support clinical development of AUR104.

Citation Format: Dinesh Chikkanna, Leena Khare Satyam, Sunil Kumar Pnaigrahi, Vinayak Khairnar, Manoj Pothuganti, Lakshmi Narayan Kaza, Narasimha Raju Kalidindi, Vijaya Shankar Nataraj, Aditya Kiran Gatta, Narasimha Rao Krishnamurthy, Sandeep Patil, DS Samiulla, Kiran Aithal, Vijay Kamal Ahuja, Nirbhay Kumar Tiwari, KB Charamannna, Pravin Pise, Thomas Anthony, Kavitha Nellore, Sanjeev Giri, Shekar Chelur, Susanta Samajdar, Murali Ramachandra. Discovery and preclinical evaluation of a novel covalent inhibitor of FABP5 for cancer therapy [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr 1266.