Alterations in the ATM gene are among the most common somatic and hereditary cancer mutations, and ATM-deficient tumors are hypersensitive to DNA-damaging agents. A synthetic lethal combination of DNA-damaging agents and DNA repair inhibitors could have widespread utility in ATM-deficient cancers. However, overlapping normal tissue toxicities from these drug classes have precluded their clinical translation. We investigated PLX038, a releasable polyethylene glycol-conjugate of the topoisomerase I inhibitor SN-38, in ATM wild-type and null isogenic xenografts and in a BRCA1-deficient xenograft. PLX038 monotherapy and combination with PARP inhibition potently inhibited the growth of both BRCA1- and ATM-deficient tumors. A patient with an ATM-mutated breast cancer treated with PLX038 and the PARP inhibitor rucaparib achieved rapid, symptomatic, and radiographic complete response lasting 12 months. Single-agent PLX038 or PLX038 in combination with DNA damage response inhibitors are novel therapeutic paradigms for patients with ATM-loss cancers.

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