A Precision Medicine Drug Discovery Pipeline Identifies Combined CDK2 and 9 Inhibition as a Novel Therapeutic Strategy in Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer

Mol Cancer Ther. 2020 Nov 6:molcanther.0454.2020. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-20-0454. Online ahead of print.


Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in the US and responsible for over 50,000 deaths each year. Therapeutic options for advanced colorectal cancer are limited, and there remains an unmet clinical need to identify new treatments for this deadly disease. To address this need, we developed a precision medicine pipeline that integrates high-throughput chemical screens with matched patient-derived cell lines and patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) to identify new treatments for colorectal

cancer. High-throughput screens of 2,100 compounds were performed across six low-passage, patient-derived colorectal cancer cell lines. These screens identified the CDK inhibitor drug class among the most effective cytotoxic compounds across six colorectal cancer lines. Among this class, combined targeting of CDK1, 2, and 9 was the most effective, with IC50 ranging from 110 nM to 1.2 μM. Knockdown of CDK9 in the presence of a CDK2 inhibitor (CVT-313) showed that CDK9 knockdown acted synergistically with CDK2 inhibition. Mechanistically, dual CDK2/9 inhibition induced significant G2/M arrest and anaphase catastrophe. Combined CDK2/9 inhibition in vivo synergistically reduced PDX tumor growth. Our precision medicine pipeline provides a robust screening and validation platform to identify promising new cancer therapies. Application of this platform to colorectal cancer pinpointed CDK2/9 dual inhibition as a novel combinatorial therapy to treat colorectal cancer.