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Single-cell profiling guided combinatorial immunotherapy for fast-evolving CDK4/6 inhibitor resistant HER2-positive breast cancer

By Qingfei Wang, Ian H. Guldner, Samantha M Golomb, Longhua Sun, Jack Harris, Xin Lu, Siyuan Zhang

Posted 14 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/671198 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11729-1)

Development of acquired resistance to targeted cancer therapy is one of the most significant clinical challenges. Acquiring resistance under drug selection pressure is a result of evolutionary adaptation to a complex and dynamic tumor microenvironment (TME). New therapy regimens combining CDK4/6 inhibitor are under active investigation in clinical trials to treat HER2+ breast cancer patients. In parallel with clinical trial settings, in this study, we sought to prospectively model the tumor evolution in response to a targeted therapy regimen in vivo and identify a clinically actionable strategy to combat potential acquired resistance. Notably, despite a promising initial response, acquired resistance emerged rapidly to the anti-Her2/Neu antibody plus CDK4/6 inhibitor Palbociclib combination treatment. By leveraging high-throughput single-cell analyses of the evolving tumors over the course of treatments, we revealed a distinct immunosuppressive immature myeloid cell (IMC) population infiltrated in the resistant TME. Guided by single-cell transcriptome analysis, we demonstrated a combinatorial immunotherapy of IMC-targeting tyrosine kinase inhibitor cabozantinib and immune checkpoint blockades enhanced anti-tumor immunity, and overcame the resistance. Further, sequential combinatorial immunotherapy enabled a sustained control of the rapidly evolving CDK4/6 inhibitor-resistant tumors. Our study demonstrates a translational framework for treating rapidly evolving tumors through preclinical modeling and single-cell analyses. Our findings provide a rationale for an immediate clinical proposition of combinatorial immunotherapy for HER2+ breast cancer as a strategy to mitigate the emergence of resistance.

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