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Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Apr 1;21(7):1639-51. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-2339. Epub 2015 Jan 14.

The BRAF and MEK Inhibitors Dabrafenib and Trametinib: Effects on Immune Function and in Combination with Immunomodulatory Antibodies Targeting PD-1, PD-L1, and CTLA-4.

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Immuno-Oncology and Combination DPU, GlaxoSmithKline, Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
Molecular Medicine Unit, Oncology R&D, GlaxoSmithKline, Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
Statistical Science, GlaxoSmithKline, Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
Immuno-Oncology and Combination DPU, GlaxoSmithKline, Collegeville, Pennsylvania.



To assess the immunologic effects of dabrafenib and trametinib in vitro and to test whether trametinib potentiates or antagonizes the activity of immunomodulatory antibodies in vivo.


Immune effects of dabrafenib and trametinib were evaluated in human CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells from healthy volunteers, a panel of human tumor cell lines, and in vivo using a CT26 mouse model.


Dabrafenib enhanced pERK expression levels and did not suppress human CD4(+) or CD8(+) T-cell function. Trametinib reduced pERK levels, and resulted in partial/transient inhibition of T-cell proliferation/expression of a cytokine and immunomodulatory gene subset, which is context dependent. Trametinib effects were partially offset by adding dabrafenib. Dabrafenib and trametinib in BRAF V600E/K, and trametinib in BRAF wild-type tumor cells induced apoptosis markers, upregulated HLA molecule expression, and downregulated certain immunosuppressive factors such as PD-L1, IL1, IL8, NT5E, and VEGFA. PD-L1 expression in tumor cells was upregulated after acquiring resistance to BRAF inhibition in vitro. Combinations of trametinib with immunomodulators targeting PD-1, PD-L1, or CTLA-4 in a CT26 model were more efficacious than any single agent. The combination of trametinib with anti-PD-1 increased tumor-infiltrating CD8(+) T cells in CT26 tumors. Concurrent or phased sequential treatment, defined as trametinib lead-in followed by trametinib plus anti-PD-1 antibody, demonstrated superior efficacy compared with anti-PD-1 antibody followed by anti-PD-1 plus trametinib.


These findings support the potential for synergy between targeted therapies dabrafenib and trametinib and immunomodulatory antibodies. Clinical exploration of such combination regimens is under way.

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