AbstractNovel targeted therapies demonstrate improved survival in specific subgroups (defined by genetic variants) of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, validating the paradigm of molecularly targeted therapy. However, identifying correlations between AML molecular attributes and effective therapies is challenging. Recent advances in high-throughput in vitro drug sensitivity screening applied to primary AML blasts were used to uncover such correlations; however, these methods cannot predict the response of leukemic stem cells (LSCs). Our study aimed to predict in vitro response to targeted therapies, based on molecular markers, with subsequent validation in LSCs. We performed ex vivo sensitivity screening to 46 drugs on 29 primary AML samples at diagnosis or relapse. Using unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis we identified group with sensitivity to several tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), including the multi-TKI, dasatinib, and searched for correlations between dasatinib response, exome sequencing and gene expression from our dataset and from the Beat AML dataset. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis of gene expression resulted in clustering of dasatinib responders and non-responders. In vitro response to dasatinib could be predicted based on gene expression (AUC=0.78). Furthermore, mutations in FLT3/ITD and PTPN11 were enriched in the dasatinib sensitive samples as opposed to mutations in TP53 which were enriched in resistant samples. Based on these results, we selected FLT3/ITD AML samples and injected them to NSG-SGM3 mice. Our results demonstrate that in a subgroup of FLT3/ITD AML (4 out of 9) dasatinib significantly inhibits LSC engraftment. In summary we show that dasatinib has an anti-leukemic effect both on bulk blasts and, more importantly, LSCs from a subset of AML patients that can be identified based on mutational and expression profiles. Our data provide a rational basis for clinical trials of dasatinib in a molecularly selected subset of AML patients.
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Ferrata Storti Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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