Despite frequent overexpression of numerous growth factor receptors by pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC), such as EGFR, therapeutic antibodies have not proven effective. Desmoplasia, hypovascularity, and hypoperfusion create a functional drug delivery barrier that contributes to treatment resistance. Drug combinations that target tumor/stroma interactions could enhance tumor deposition of therapeutic antibodies, although clinical trials have yet to support this strategy. We hypothesize that macromolecular or nanoparticulate therapeutic agents may best exploit stroma-targeting "tumor priming" strategies, based on the fundamental principles of the Enhanced Permeability and Retention phenomenon. Therefore, we investigated the molecular and pharmacologic tumor responses to NVP-LDE225, an SMO inhibitor of sonic hedgehog signaling (sHHI), of patient-derived xenograft models that recapitulate the desmoplasia and drug delivery barrier properties of PDAC. Short-term sHHI exposure mediated dose- and time-dependent changes in tumor microvessel patency, extracellular matrix architecture, and interstitial pressure, which waned with prolonged sHHI exposure, and increased nanoparticulate permeability probe deposition in multiple PDAC patient-derived xenograft isolates. During sHHI-mediated priming, deposition and intratumor distribution of both a nontargeted mAb and a mAb targeting EGFR, cetuximab, were enhanced. Sequencing the sHH inhibitor with cetuximab administration resulted in marked tumor growth inhibition compared with cetuximab alone. These studies suggest that PDAC drug delivery barriers confound efforts to employ mAb against targets in PDAC, and that short-term, intermittent exposure to stromal modulators can increase tumor cell exposure to therapeutic antibodies, improving their efficacy, and potentially minimize adverse effects that may accompany longer-term, continuous sHHI treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research