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Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Apr 15;14(8):2465-75. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-4367.

EXEL-7647 inhibits mutant forms of ErbB2 associated with lapatinib resistance and neoplastic transformation.

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Exelixis, Inc., South San Francisco, CA 94083, USA.



Mutations associated with resistance to kinase inhibition are an important mechanism of intrinsic or acquired loss of clinical efficacy for kinase-targeted therapeutics. We report the prospective discovery of ErbB2 mutations that confer resistance to the small-molecule inhibitor lapatinib.


We did in vitro screening using a randomly mutagenized ErbB2 expression library in Ba/F3 cells, which were dependent on ErbB2 activity for survival and growth.


Lapatinib resistance screens identified mutations at 16 different ErbB2 amino acid residues, with 12 mutated amino acids mapping to the kinase domain. Mutations conferring the greatest lapatinib resistance cluster in the NH2-terminal kinase lobe and hinge region. Structural computer modeling studies suggest that lapatinib resistance is caused by multiple mechanisms; including direct steric interference and restriction of conformational flexibility (the inactive state required for lapatinib binding is energetically unfavorable). ErbB2 T798I imparts the strongest lapatinib resistance effect and is analogous to the epidermal growth factor receptor T790M, ABL T315I, and cKIT T670I gatekeeper mutations that are associated with clinical drug resistance. ErbB2 mutants associated with lapatinib resistance transformed NIH-3T3 cells, including L755S and T733I mutations known to occur in human breast and gastric carcinomas, supporting a direct mechanism for lapatinib resistance in ErbB2-driven human cancers. The epidermal growth factor receptor/ErbB2/vascular endothelial growth factor receptor inhibitor EXEL-7647 was found to inhibit almost all lapatinib resistance-associated mutations. Furthermore, no ErbB2 mutations were found to be associated with EXEL-7647 resistance and lapatinib sensitivity.


Taken together, these data suggest potential target-based mechanisms of resistance to lapatinib and suggest that EXEL-7647 may be able to circumvent these effects.

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