PURPOSE: Predictive biomarkers are required to identify patients who may benefit from the use of BH3 mimetics such as ABT-263. This study investigated the efficacy of ABT-263 against a panel of patient-derived pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) xenografts and utilized cell and molecular approaches to identify biomarkers that predict in vivo ABT-263 sensitivity.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The in vivo efficacy of ABT-263 was tested against a panel of 31 patient-derived ALL xenografts composed of MLL-, BCP-, and T-ALL subtypes. Basal gene expression profiles of ALL xenografts were analyzed and confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR, protein expression and BH3 profiling. An in vitro coculture assay with immortalized human mesenchymal cells was utilized to build a predictive model of in vivo ABT-263 sensitivity.
RESULTS: ABT-263 demonstrated impressive activity against pediatric ALL xenografts, with 19 of 31 achieving objective responses. Among BCL2 family members, in vivo ABT-263 sensitivity correlated best with low MCL1 mRNA expression levels. BH3 profiling revealed that resistance to ABT-263 correlated with mitochondrial priming by NOXA peptide, suggesting a functional role for MCL1 protein. Using an in vitro coculture assay, a predictive model of in vivo ABT-263 sensitivity was built. Testing this model against 11 xenografts predicted in vivo ABT-263 responses with high sensitivity (50%) and specificity (100%).
CONCLUSION: These results highlight the in vivo efficacy of ABT-263 against a broad range of pediatric ALL subtypes and shows that a combination of in vitro functional assays can be used to predict its in vivo efficacy.