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Tipifarnib Prevents Emergence of Resistance to Osimertinib in EGFR+ NSCLC

*April 2022*

Drug-tolerant “dormant” cells (DTC) have emerged as one of the major non-genetic mechanisms driving resistance to targeted therapy in lung cancer, although the sequence of events leading to entry and exit from dormancy remain poorly described. Here, we performed real-time monitoring of the cell cycle dynamics during the adaptive response to Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKi) in a panel of EGFR-mutated lung cancer cell lines. We identified a rare population of S/G2 cycling cells (referred to as early escapers) that emerged in the first hours of treatment amongst stably arrested and progressively dying G1 cells. We determined that early escapers evolved from a non-proliferative differentiated alveolar type 1 (AT1) phenotype which was invariably associated with cytoskeletal remodeling through Rho/ROCK pathway activation. Using a panel of Rho-pathway inhibitors, we found that the farnesyltransferase inhibitor tipifarnib induced a complete clearance of EGFR-TKi-induced DTC thus fully preventing relapse in vitro. Using a xenograft model and a PDX model of EGFRL858R/T790M lung cancer, co-treatment with tipifarnib prevented relapse to osimertinib for up to 6 months with no evidence of toxicity. Read more.