Targeted therapy of pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine antifolates in a syngeneic mouse model of high grade serous ovarian cancer and the impact on the tumor microenvironment
Novel therapies are urgently needed for epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), the most lethal gynecologic malignancy. In addition, therapies that target unique vulnerabilities in the tumor microenvironment (TME) of EOC have largely been unrealized. One strategy to achieve selective drug delivery for EOC therapy involves use of targeted antifolates via their uptake by folate receptor (FR) proteins, resulting in inhibition of essential one-carbon (C1) metabolic pathways. FRα is highly expressed in EOCs, along with the proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT); FRβ is expressed on activated macrophages, a major infiltrating immune population in EOC. Thus, there is great potential for targeting both the tumor and the TME with agents delivered via selective transport by FRs and PCFT. In this report, we investigated the therapeutic potential of a novel cytosolic C1 6-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine inhibitor AGF94, with selectivity for uptake by FRs and PCFT and inhibition of de novo purine nucleotide biosynthesis, against a syngeneic model of ovarian cancer (BR-Luc) which recapitulates high-grade serous ovarian cancer in patients. In vitro activity of AGF94 was extended in vivo against orthotopic BR-Luc tumors. With late-stage subcutaneous BR-Luc xenografts, AGF94 treatment resulted in substantial anti-tumor efficacy, accompanied by significantly decreased M2-like FRβ-expressing macrophages and increased CD3+ T cells, whereas CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were unaffected. Our studies demonstrate potent anti-tumor efficacy of AGF94 in the therapy of EOC in the context of an intact immune system, and provide a framework for targeting the immunosuppressive TME as an essential component of therapy.