Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) remains generally incurable, suggesting that more effective control of unrestrained tumor growth is essential. Loss of cell cycle control is a hallmark of cancer, in particular of MCL where cell cycle progression through G1 is accelerated due to elevation of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) and constitutive cyclin D1 expression. Thus, one rational approach to improve MCL therapy is to target CDK4/6 in combination with cytotoxic killing. Although success in targeting the cell cycle in cancer with broad-spectrum CDK inhibitors has been modest, PD 0332991, the only known CDK4/6-specific inhibitor with oral bioavailability, has been shown to selectively and potently inhibit CDK4/6 in MCL cells ex vivo. Additionally, in a proof-of-mechanism study in patients with recurrent MCL, we have found that PD 0332991 is well tolerated, and effective in inhibiting CDK4 and CDK6 and suppressing tumor growth in vivo. Of note, 50% of the patients (8/16) have achieved a stable disease for greater then 40 weeks (Leonard et al, abstract submitted to ASH 2008). These findings suggest that selective targeting of CDK4 and CDK6 with PD 0332991 is a promising therapy for MCL. To advance targeting of the cell cycle in cancer, we have developed two novel approaches to both inhibit tumor cell proliferation and activate cell cycle-coupled apoptosis in MCL. We show in primary MCL tumor cells and MCL cell lines by BrdU pulse labeling and DNA content analysis that selective inhibition of CDK4/6 with PD 0332991 leads to a complete G1 arrest, despite high level of c-Myc expression and extensive chromosomal abnormality. As PD 0332991 acts reversibly, removal of PD 0332991 immediately releases the G1 block and induces synchronous (>90%) G1-S cell cycle progression and S phase entry. This sensitizes chemoresistant MCL cells to killing by suboptimal doses of cytotoxic agents such as bortezomib, through activating cell cycle-coupled apoptosis during S phase entry. Synergistic killing of MCL cells by induction of cell cycle synchronization with PD 0332991 in combination with bortezomib is mediated by induction of mitochondrial membrane depolarization and activation of caspase-9. In a complementary study, we have demonstrated that selective targeting of CDK4 and CDK6 by PD 0332991 similarly primes chemoresistant primary myeloma cells for cytotoxic killing by activating cell cycle-coupled apoptosis, and induces synergistic tumor suppression in animal models. Selective targeting of CDK4 and CDK6 by PD 0332991 in combination with cytotoxic killing, therefore, represents a promising new strategy for cell cycle-based therapy for MCL and other hematopoietic malignancies.

Disclosures: Leonard:Millennium: Consultancy; Johnson & Johnson: Consultancy. Chen-Kiang:Pfizer: Research Funding. Off Label Use: PD 0332991 is going to be used as a CDK4/6-specific inhibitor.

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