Development of antitumor agents targeting energy metabolism pathways of cancer cells has attracted much attention in recent days. In general, most cancer cells are known to display Warburg effect. Recently, it has been reported that cancer cells exist as heterogeneous groups in the microenvironment surrounding cancer cells and that not only glycolysis but also mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is important for cancer growth. In addition, many research groups have reported that the acquisition of anticancer drug resistance is caused by metabolic reprogramming from glycolysis to OXPHOS. Therefore, OXPHOS inhibitors could be useful antitumor agents. OPB-111077 is an orally active novel antitumor agent and has the inhibitory effect on mitochondrial OXPHOS. OPB-111077 had the inhibitory effect on mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I which led to the inhibition of energy production and activation of AMPK-mTOR energy stress sensor pathway. In in vitro growth inhibition studies, OPB-111077 showed potent inhibitory effects on the growth of various human blood tumor cell lines derived from leukemia, multiple myeloma and lymphoma with IC 50 values between 18.6 and 525.3 nM, and on the growth of human solid tumor cell lines derived from liver cancer, lung cancer, gastric cancer and breast cancer with IC 50 values ranging from 92.6 to 1727.7 nM. In in vivo studies using SCID mice bearing tumors from human tumor cell lines, daily oral administration of OPB-111077 demonstrated significant antitumor effects against leukemia, lymphoma, liver, gastric and breast cancer cell line-derived tumor, dose-dependently.

Here, we report the combination therapy strategy based on the cancer energy metabolism of OPB-111077. We found that OPB-111077 combined with alkylating agent, cyclophosphamide or bendamustine, showed the synergistic effect on xenograft mice model using human diffuse large B‐cell lymphoma (DLBCL) cell line. To clarify this mechanism, we examined the effect of alkylating agents on mitochondrial respiration in vitro using flux analyzer and found that alkylating agents induced OXPHOS nature in the DLBCL cell line. Furthermore, the administration of alkylating agents to DLBCL cell line xenograft model mice followed by mRNA expression analysis of their tumor tissue confirmed that expression of OXPHOS-related markers was induced. These results suggest the administration of alkylating agents induced reprogramming to OXPHOS predominant nature in tumor. The tumor environment is actively reprogrammed to OXPHOS by alkylating agents, and it is changed to a state in which the antitumor effect of OPB-111077 can be more exerted. Thus, alkylating agents enhance the effect of OPB-111077 by tilting glycolytically dominant tumors to OXPHOS dominant. The alkylating agents, cyclophosphamide and bendamustine, are used as standard therapies for lymphoma. OPB-111077 could be treated in a wide range of applications as a combination therapy with the alkylating agents for lymphoma.

In clinical, we have confirmed that OPB-111077 has tolerable and controllable toxicity profile of single agent in some advanced cancer patients including DLBCL. Bendamustine and rituximab (BR) therapy is indicated for the treatment of patients who are ineligible for transplantation of relapsed / refractory (R/R) DLBCL. However, there is still a high unmet need for patients with R/R DLBCL due to no standard treatment for transplant‐ineligible patients. We are conducting combination therapy of OPB-111077 with bendamustine and rituximab in Phase 1 clinical trial for R/R DLBCL in Japan.


Ohi:Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd.: Current Employment. Okuno:Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd.: Current Employment. Tanaka:Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd.: Current Employment. Ohtani:Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd.: Current Employment.

OffLabel Disclosure:

Compound: OPB-111077 Purpose: Development of novel antitumor agent

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