<p>Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in infants (&lt;1 year of age) remains one of the most aggressive types of childhood hematologic malignancy. The majority (~80%) of infant ALL cases are characterized by chromosomal translocations involving the MLL (or KMT2A) gene, which confer highly dismal prognoses on current combination chemotherapeutic regimens. Hence, more adequate therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. To expedite clinical transition of potentially effective therapeutics, we here applied a drug repurposing approach by performing in vitro drug screens of (mostly) clinically approved drugs on a variety of human ALL cell line models. Out of 3685 compounds tested, the alkaloid drug Camptothecin (CPT) and its derivatives 10-Hydroxycamtothecin (10-HCPT) and 7-Ethyl-10-hydroxycamtothecin (SN-38: the active metabolite of the drug Irinotecan) appeared most effective at very low nanomolar concentrations in all ALL cell lines, including models of MLL-rearranged ALL (n = 3). Although the observed in vitro anti-leukemic effects of Camptothecin and its derivatives certainly were not specific to MLL-rearranged ALL, we decided to further focus on this highly aggressive type of leukemia. Given that Irinotecan (the pro-drug of SN-38) has been increasingly used for the treatment of various pediatric solid tumors, we specifically chose this agent for further pre-clinical evaluation in pediatric MLL-rearranged ALL. Interestingly, shortly after engraftment, Irinotecan completely blocked leukemia expansion in mouse xenografts of a pediatric MLL-rearranged ALL cell line, as well as in two patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of MLL-rearranged infant ALL. Also, from a more clinically relevant perspective, Irinotecan monotherapy was able to induce sustainable disease remissions in MLL-rearranged ALL xenotransplanted mice burdened with advanced leukemia. Taken together, our data demonstrate that Irinotecan exerts highly potent anti-leukemia effects against pediatric MLL-rearranged ALL, and likely against other, more favorable subtypes of childhood ALL as well.</p>

doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines9070711, hdl.handle.net/1765/136292
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

MJB (Mark) Kerstjens, PG Castro, Sandra S. Pinhanços, P Schneider, P Wander, R Pieters, & RW (Ronald) Stam. (2021). Irinotecan induces disease remission in xenograft mouse models of pediatric MLL-rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Biomedicines, 9(7). doi:10.3390/biomedicines9070711