Combinations of drugs can improve the efficacy of cancer treatment, enable the reduction of side effects and the occurrence of acquired drug resistance.
We approached this challenge mathematically by using the validated technology called the Therapeutically Guided Multidrug Optimization (TGMO) method.
In a set of genetically distinct human renal cell carcinoma (RCC) cell lines, either treated chronically with sunitinib (-ST) or sunitinib-naive, we identified cell line-specific low-dose-optimised drug combinations (ODC).
Six cell-type-specific low-dose drug combinations for three sunitinib-naive as well as three sunitinib pre-treated cells were established. These ODCs effectively inhibited the RCC cell metabolic activity while being ineffective in non-cancerous cells. Based on a single screening test and three searches, starting with ten drugs, we identified highly efficacious drug mixtures containing four drugs. All ODCs contained AZD4547 (FGFR signalling pathway inhibitor) and pictilisib (pan-phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor), but varied in the third and fourth drug. ODC treatment significantly decreased cell metabolic activity (up to 70%) and induced apoptosis, independent of the pretreatment with sunitinib. The ODCs outperformed sunitinib, the standard care for RCC. Moreover, short-term starvation potentiated the ODC activity. The translation of the 2D-based results to 3D heterotypic co-culture models revealed significant inhibition of the spheroid growth (up to 95%).
We demonstrate a promising low-dose drug combination development to obtain drug combinations effective in naive as well as resistant tumours. Nevertheless, we emphasise the need for further mechanistic investigation and preclinical development.
British journal of cancer. 2020 May 22 [Epub ahead of print]
Magdalena Rausch, Andrea Weiss, Joanna Achkhanian, Andrei Rotari, Patrycja Nowak-Sliwinska
Molecular Pharmacology Group, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Western Switzerland, 1 Rue Michel-Servet, 1211, Geneva 4, Switzerland., Molecular Pharmacology Group, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Western Switzerland, 1 Rue Michel-Servet, 1211, Geneva 4, Switzerland. .