As a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is an aggressive subtype. This is largely due to frequent relapses after therapies including paradigm shifting therapies BTK inhibitors (BTKi), such as ibrutinib and acalabrutinib, and Bcl-2 inhibitor (Bcl-2i) venetoclax after long-term treatment in the clinic. Dysregulation of Bcl-2 and Bcl-X L, contributes to therapeutic resistance in MCL. AZD0466 is a novel and highly potent Bcl-2/X L dual inhibitor with active moiety AZD4320. Our preliminary data showed AZD4320 is potent in inhibiting cell viability of MCL cells (IC 50 = 1.6-78 nM). In this study, we assessed the combination efficacy of AZD4320/AZD0466 and acalabrutinib on preclinical MCL models.


Cell viability assay was performed to assess the in vitro efficacy of AZD4320 and acalabrutinib alone or in combination in a panel of ibrutinib/venetoclax-sensitive and -resistant MCL cell lines. Cell apoptosis assay was also performed to determine if AZD4320 and acalabrutinib enhanced cell death by cell apoptosis in MCL cell lines. Protein expression profiles of a panel of pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins and other relevant proteins were detected by immunoblotting. Since AZD4320 is limited in preclinical model due to physicochemical properties and dose limiting cardiovascular toxicity, AZD0466, the drug-dendrimer conjugate of AZD4320, was used for in vivo experiment. In vivo efficacy of AZD0466 (34 mg/kg, weekly, iv) and acalabrutinib (20 mg/kg, BID, oral) alone or in combination was evaluated using a Mino-venetoclax-R (Mino-R) cell xenograft model and a PDX model derived from an ibrutinib-CAR-T dual-resistant MCL patient.


AZD4320 in combo with acalabrutinib inhibited cell proliferation synergistically in both ibrutinib/venetoclax-sensitive and -resistant cell lines (combination index = 0.17-0.93). Compared to vehicle or either single agent, the combination enhanced cell apoptosis by increasing pro-apoptotic markers cleaved caspase 3 and cleaved PARP. In the xenograft mouse model derived from venetoclax-resistant Mino-R cells, co-treatment of AZD0466 and acalabrutinib decreased tumor size significantly compared to vehicle (n = 5, p < 0.0001) or either single agent (n = 5, p = 0.0118 and 0.0070, respectively). Furthermore, in the PDX mouse model derived from a patient relapsed subsequently from ibrutinib and CAR T therapy, the combination of AZD0466 and acalabrutinib inhibited tumor growth compared to vehicle or either single agent. Acalabrutinib or AZD0466 improved survival compared with vehicle by 14 days or 32 days, respectively. Compared to Acalabrutinib or AZD0466, the combination therapy extended survival by 25 days and 7 days, respectively. All mice tolerated the treatment dose without any weight loss compared to the vehicle or either single agent group.


Compared to AZD4320/AZD0466 and acalabrutinib, combination therapy demonstrated anti-MCL synergy both in vitro and in vivo. These findings suggest that targeting Bcl-2/X L and BTK is promising to overcome multiple acquired resistance phenotypes, including CD19 CAR T-cell therapy.


Andersen:AstraZeneca: Current Employment, Current equity holder in publicly-traded company. Cidado:AstraZeneca: Current Employment, Current equity holder in publicly-traded company. Wang:DTRM Biopharma (Cayman) Limited: Consultancy; BeiGene: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Physicians Education Resources (PER): Honoraria; Anticancer Association: Honoraria; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; CAHON: Honoraria; The First Afflicted Hospital of Zhejiang University: Honoraria; Epizyme: Consultancy, Honoraria; AstraZeneca: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; BGICS: Honoraria; Imedex: Honoraria; Clinical Care Options: Honoraria; Celgene: Research Funding; Genentech: Consultancy; Loxo Oncology: Consultancy, Research Funding; InnoCare: Consultancy, Research Funding; Molecular Templates: Research Funding; Lilly: Research Funding; VelosBio: Consultancy, Research Funding; BioInvent: Research Funding; Oncternal: Consultancy, Research Funding; OMI: Honoraria; Newbridge Pharmaceuticals: Honoraria; Scripps: Honoraria; Hebei Cancer Prevention Federation: Honoraria; Chinese Medical Association: Honoraria; Pharmacyclics: Consultancy, Research Funding; Juno: Consultancy, Research Funding; CStone: Consultancy; Bayer Healthcare: Consultancy; Miltenyi Biomedicine GmbH: Consultancy, Honoraria; Kite Pharma: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Acerta Pharma: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Dava Oncology: Honoraria; Moffit Cancer Center: Honoraria; Mumbai Hematology Group: Honoraria.

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