Targeting surface receptors overexpressed on cancer cells is one way to specifically treat cancer versus normal cells. Vintafolide (EC145), which consists of folate linked to a cytotoxic small molecule, desacetylvinblastine hydrazide (DAVLBH), takes advantage of the overexpression of folate receptor (FR) on cancer cells. Once bound to FR, vintafolide enters the cell by endocytosis, and the reducing environment of the endosome cleaves the linker, releasing DAVLBH to destabilize microtubules. Vintafolide has shown efficacy and improved tolerability compared with DAVLBH in FR-positive preclinical models. As the first FR-targeting drug to reach the clinic, vintafolide has achieved favorable responses in phase II clinical trials in FR-positive ovarian and lung cancer. However, some FR-positive patients in these clinical trials do not respond to vintafolide. We sought to identify potential biomarkers of resistance to aid in the future development of this and other FR-targeting drugs. Here, we confirm that high P-glycoprotein (P-gp) expression was the strongest predictor of resistance to DAVLBH in a panel of 359 cancer cell lines. Furthermore, targeted delivery of DAVLBH via the FR, as in vintafolide, fails to overcome P-gp–mediated efflux of DAVLBH in both in vitro and in vivo preclinical models. Therefore, we suggest that patients whose tumors express high levels of P-gp be excluded from future clinical trials for vintafolide as well as other FR-targeted therapeutics bearing a P-gp substrate. Mol Cancer Ther; 15(8); 1998–2008. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Online (http://mct.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received December 7, 2015.
- Revision received May 3, 2016.
- Accepted May 9, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.