The BRAF kinase plays a critical role in the MAPK signaling pathway and is mutated in ~8% of all human cancers including melanoma (~60%), thyroid (~60%), and lung adenocarcinoma (~10%). The most common mutation in BRAF is V600E (Class I), which is found in >70% in these cancers. Despite the clinical success of approved small molecule inhibitors of BRAF V600E (vemurafenib, dabrafenib and encorafenib), this remains an area of unmet medical need because nearly all patients progress, due to either primary or acquired resistance. A bifunctional degradation activating compound (or BiDACTM degrader) may address the liabilities of approved drugs by overcoming, or preventing the emergence of, resistance to BRAF inhibitors. Here we describe CFT1946, an orally bioavailable cereblon-based BiDAC degrader of BRAF V600 mutant proteins, and provide an overview of the medicinal chemistry path leading to its discovery. CFT1946 degrades BRAF V600 mutant proteins, while maintaining exquisite selectivity against the proteome, sparing wild type BRAF (BRAF-WT), ARAF, and CRAF. In A375 cells, CFT1946 potently degraded BRAF V600E and inhibited ERK phosphorylation and cell growth while having no effect in the mutant KRAS, BRAF-WT driven cell line HCT116. In the A375 xenograft model, oral delivery of CFT1946 at 10 mg/kg PO BID resulted in deeper and more durable tumor regression compared to a clinically relevant dose of encorafenib. Further evaluation of CFT1946 in an engineered, clinically relevant BRAFi-resistant A375 cell line (endogenous BRAF V600E + engineered expression of NRAS Q61K) demonstrated that CFT1946 both degraded BRAF V600E and caused a loss of viability in these cells, while treatment with encorafenib had no effect. In xenografts derived from this BRAFi-resistant cell line, oral dosing of CFT1946 as a single agent led to tumor growth inhibition, while treatment with a clinically relevant dose of encorafenib had no effect on tumor growth. Furthermore, dosing CFT1946 in combination with the MEK inhibitor, trametinib, resulted in significant tumor regression, whereas combining encorafenib with the same dose of trametinib had no effect. The medicinal chemistry campaign resulting in CFT1946 focused on the improvement of in vivo pharmacokinetics and rational linker design to achieve high oral bioavailability in a beyond Rule of 5 heterobifunctional degrader. The preclinical data presented herein support the planned Phase 1/2 clinical trial of CFT1946 for the treatment of BRAF-V600 mutant solid tumors.

Citation Format: Yanke Liang, Mathew E. Sowa, Katrina L. Jackson, Jeffrey R. Simard, Bridget Kreger, Ping Li, Laura Poling, Joelle Baddour, Andrew Good, Hongwei Huang, Scott Eron, Christopher G. Nasveschuk, Robert Yu, Mark Fitzgerald, Victoria Garza, Morgan W. O’Shea, Gesine Veits, Jeremy Y. Yap, Moses Moustakim, Ashley Hart, Roman V. Agafonov, Grace Sarkissian, Joe S. Patel, Richard Deibler, Kyle S. Cole, David Cocozziello, Fazlur Rahman, Andrew J. Phillips, Elizabeth Norton, Adam S. Crystal, Roy M. Pollock, Stewart L. Fisher. The discovery and characterization of CFT1946: A potent, selective, and orally bioavailable degrader of mutant BRAF for the treatment of BRAF-driven cancers [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2023; Part 1 (Regular and Invited Abstracts); 2023 Apr 14-19; Orlando, FL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2023;83(7_Suppl):Abstract nr 3425.