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52 Discovery of Novel, First-in-Class Allosteric Modulators of MALT1 Scaffolding Function with Differentiated Pharmacology for NFκB-Driven Malignancies

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Type: Oral
Session: 605. Molecular Pharmacology and Drug Resistance: Lymphoid Neoplasms: Novel Therapeutic Approaches in Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma
Saturday, December 9, 2023: 10:15 AM

Yi Yao*, Yingzhi Bi*, Huadong Sun*, Kevin Ling*, Huili Xia*, Jun Kuai*, Patrick DePaolo*, Virginie Lafont*, David Diller*, Ara Aslanian*, Samira Jaeger*, Joe Wahle*, Wei Liu*, Ken Carson*, Timothy Reilly*, Gerry Harriman* and Fang WANG, PhD*

HotSpot Therapeutics, Boston

Constitutive activation of NFκB is an oncogenic driver for many lymphoid and selected solid tumor malignancies. BTK inhibitors, which affect the upstream NFκB pathway, have been successfully used in some diseases, but their utility is limited. The majority of DLBCL patients, for instance, are insensitive to BTK inhibition, supporting the need for alternative mechanisms to block NFκB-driven tumor progression. Knockdown of MALT1, a key component of the CBMT complex (CARD-BCL10-MALT1-TRAF6) involved in direct signal transduction of NFκB, is able to block NFκB-dependent DLBCL tumor growth in BTKi sensitive or resistant tumors, but pharmacologic modulation has been challenged by the dual-functionality of MALT1 in a complexed signalosome.

MALT1 functions as the scaffolding component of the CBMT complex. Activated MALT1 recruits multiple proteins and directly activates NFκB canonical signaling. MALT1 also has protease activity that fine-tunes various signaling pathways including NFκB via the cleavage of many substrates. The scaffolding activity of MALT1 is critical for cancer cell survival. Most MALT1 inhibitors discovered so far only block protease activity, which results in incomplete NFκB inhibition, suboptimal anti-tumor activity, and the induction of severe autoimmunity due to protease inhibition.

Using our Smart Allostery platform, we elucidated and then drugged a natural hotspot on MALT1 that selectively impacts scaffolding but not protease function. The series of scaffolding modulators demonstrate potent inhibition of MALT1 scaffolding activity with cellular IC50 values ranging from 15 to 250 nM, while exerting minimal influence on MALT1 protease function. Unlike protease inhibitors, which only partially affect NFκB activity, scaffolding modulators completely inhibit the NFκB downstream signaling manifested by the suppression of NFκB activity with cellular IC50 values ranging from 2 to 90 nM. Consequently, scaffolding modulators exhibit a superior and broader anti-proliferation profile compared to MALT1 protease inhibitors and BTK inhibitors in a panel of lymphoma cell lines. Pathway and genetic analyses indicate that B-cell lymphoma lines driven by NFκB are especially sensitive to scaffolding modulators. In vivo studies demonstrate a robust, dose-dependent tumor growth inhibition (TGI) by one representative scaffolding modulator in several B-cell lymphoma xenograft models. In a protease inhibitor sensitive ABC-DLBCL model, OCI-LY10, our scaffolding modulator achieved a maximal TGI of 94%, while a clinical MALT1 protease inhibitor showed 62% maximal TGI (p<0.001). In protease resistant NFκB driven DLBCL models, MALT1 scaffolding modulation resulted in tumor regression or stasis. These findings highlight the differentiated pharmacology of our scaffolding modulators.

Distinct from protease inhibitors that suppress T cell activation and Treg population in vivo, scaffolding modulators also did not deplete Treg cells nor suppress T cell activation in a 14-day study. This potentially mitigates the risk of development of autoimmune disease caused by chronic MALT1 protease inhibition.

In summary, we have discovered novel, first-in-class allosteric modulators of MALT1 scaffolding activities. These scaffolding modulators drive enhanced and broader anti-tumor effect in models resistant to MALT1 protease or BTK inhibitors and do so without immune dysregulation. Scaffolding modulation represents a potential best-in-class therapeutic opportunity to modulate MALT1 in patients with NFκB-driven malignancies.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH