Lenalidomide- and pomalidomide-based therapies are effective drugs in the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma (MM), however most patients with MM eventually relapse or become resistant. CC-92480, a novel cereblon (CRBN) E3 ligase modulator (CELMoD) with multiple activities including potent immunomodulation and single-agent antiproliferative effects, is being investigated in a phase 1 clinical trial (CC-92480-MM-001; NCT03374085) for patients with relapsed/refractory MM (RRMM). The present study investigates the preclinical data and mechanism of action of CC-92480 in MM models.

CELMoD agents bound to CRBN confer differentiated substrate-degradation specificity on the CRL4CRBN E3 ubiquitin ligase. CRBN-modulator agents mediate destruction of Ikaros and Aiolos, transcription factors that contribute to myeloma cell survival. CC-92480 was found to produce rapid, deep, and sustained degradation of Ikaros and Aiolos, with superior antimyeloma activity. Accordingly, in a CRBN protein competitive binding assay, CC-92480 displaced a Cy-5-labeled CELMoD analog from CRBN with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) value of 0.03 μM, whereas lenalidomide competed with an IC50 value of 1.27 μM in the same assay, demonstrating a higher binding affinity of CC-92480 for CRBN. Additionally, CC-92480 promoted the recruitment of Ikaros to the CRBN E3 ligase complex more effectively than pomalidomide in 2 orthogonal CRBN/Ikaros binding assays; it also triggered a more extensive cellular ubiquitination of Ikaros, and a faster, more efficient depletion of cellular Ikaros and Aiolos than pomalidomide. In various MM cell lines, including those with acquired resistance to lenalidomide or pomalidomide and low levels of CRBN, CC-92480 produced robust degradation of Ikaros and Aiolos followed by strong reduction of 2 additional and highly critical transcription factors, c-Myc and interferon regulatory factor 4, which are linked to the induction of apoptosis as measured by cleaved caspase-3. The tumoricidal activity of CC-92480 was shown to be CRBN dependent, since the effect was prevented by complete loss of CRBN or by the stabilization of Ikaros and Aiolos.

CC-92480 displayed broad and potent antiproliferative activity across a panel of 20 MM cell lines that are either sensitive, have acquired resistance, or are refractory to lenalidomide or pomalidomide; the cell lines also contained diverse chromosomal translocations and oncogenic drivers typically found in MM patients. Approximately half of the MM cell lines evaluated were highly sensitive to CC-92480, with IC50 values for antiproliferative activity ranging from 0.04 to 5 nM; only 2 cell lines had IC50 values > 100 nM. CC-92480 inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in MM cell lines that are not sensitive to lenalidomide or pomalidomide. This panel of cell lines includes both refractory cell lines and resistant cell lines generated through continuous exposure to lenalidomide and pomalidomide that acquired low levels of CRBN protein or mutations in the CRBN gene.

CC-92480 also induced deep destruction of Ikaros and Aiolos in cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), which led to the activation of T cells and increased production of the cytokines interleukin-2 and interferon gamma. These responses occurred at the range of CC-92480 concentrations that show potent tumoricidal effect against MM cells. The T cell activation and enhanced cytokine production by CC-92480 led to the potent and effective immune-mediated killing of MM cells in co-cultures with PBMCs.

CC-92480 is a potent antiproliferative and proapoptotic novel CELMoD with enhanced autonomous cell-killing activity in MM cells that are either sensitive, resistant, or have acquired resistance to lenalidomide and pomalidomide. CC-92480 has a unique and rapid degradation profile stemming from the enhanced efficiency to drive the formation of a protein-protein interaction between Ikaros and Aiolos and CRBN, inducing cytotoxic effects in a CRL4CRBN-dependent fashion that leads ultimately to the induction of apoptosis, even in the context of low or mutated CRBN protein. Additionally, similar to lenalidomide, CC-92480 conserves immunomodulatory activity against MM cells. These data support the clinical investigation of CC-92480 in patients with RRMM.

Disclosures

Lopez-Girona:Celgene Corporation: Employment. Havens:Pfizer: Employment, Equity Ownership; Celgene: Equity Ownership. Lu:Celgene Corporation: Employment, Equity Ownership. Rychak:Celgene Corporation: Employment, Equity Ownership. Mendy:Celgene Corporation: Employment. Gaffney:Celgene: Employment. Surka:Celgene: Employment, Equity Ownership. Lu:Celgene Corporation: Employment, Equity Ownership. Matyskiela:Celgene corporation: Employment. Khambatta:Celgene: Employment. Wong:Celgene Corporation: Employment, Equity Ownership. Hansen:Celgene Corporation: Employment. Pierce:Celgene Corporation: Employment, Equity Ownership. Cathers:Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT): Employment; Celgene Corporation: Equity Ownership. Carmichael:Celgene plc: Employment, Equity Ownership.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.