Discovery of fruquintinib, a potent and highly selective small molecule inhibitor of VEGFR 1, 2, 3 tyrosine kinases for cancer therapy

Qiaoling Sun, Jinghong Zhou, Zheng Zhang, Mingchuan Guo, Junqing Liang, Feng Zhou, Jingwen Long, Wei Zhang, Fang Yin, Huaqing Cai, Haibin Yang, Weihan Zhang, Yi Gu, Liang Ni, Yang Sai, Yumin Cui, Meifang Zhang, Minhua Hong, Junen Sun, Zheng Yang, Weiguo Qing, Weiguo Su, Yongxin Ren
Cancer Biology & Therapy 2014, 15 (12): 1635-45
VEGF/VEGFR signal axis has been proven to be an important target for development of novel cancer therapies. One challenging aspect in small molecular VEGFR inhibitors is to achieve sustained target inhibition at tolerable doses previously seen only with the long-acting biologics. It would require high potency (low effective drug concentrations) and sufficient drug exposures at tolerated doses so that the drug concentration can be maintained above effective drug concentration for target inhibition within the dosing period. Fruquintinib (HMPL-013) is a small molecule inhibitor with strong potency and high selectivity against VEGFR family currently in Phase II clinical studies. Analysis of Phase I pharmacokinetic data revealed that at the maximum tolerated dose of once daily oral administration fruquintinib achieved complete VEGFR2 suppression (drug concentrations were maintained above that required to produce >85% inhibition of VEGFR2 phosphorylation in mouse) for 24 hours/day. In this article, the preclinical data for fruquintinib will be described, including kinase enzyme activity and selectivity, cellular VEGFR inhibition and VEGFR-driven functional activity, in vivo VEGFR phosphorylation inhibition in the lung tissue in mouse and tumor growth inhibition in a panel of tumor xenograft and patient derive xenograft models in mouse. Pharmacokinetic and target inhibition data are also presented to provide a correlation between target inhibition and tumor growth inhibition.

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