Leukemia inhibitory factor receptor (LIFR) and its ligand LIF play a critical role in cancer progression, metastasis, stem cell maintenance, and therapy resistance. Here, we describe a rationally designed first-in-class inhibitor of LIFR, EC359, which directly interacts with LIFR to effectively block LIF/LIFR interactions. EC359 treatment exhibits antiproliferative effects, reduces invasiveness and stemness, and promotes apoptosis in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell lines. The activity of EC359 is dependent on LIF and LIFR expression, and treatment with EC359 attenuated the activation of LIF/LIFR-driven pathways, including STAT3, mTOR, and AKT. Concomitantly, EC359 was also effective in blocking signaling by other LIFR ligands (CTF1, CNTF, and OSM) that interact at LIF/LIFR interface. EC359 significantly reduced tumor progression in TNBC xenografts and patient-derived xenografts (PDX), and reduced proliferation in patient-derived primary TNBC explants. EC359 exhibits distinct pharmacologic advantages, including oral bioavailability, and in vivo stability. Collectively, these data support EC359 as a novel targeted therapeutic that inhibits LIFR oncogenic signaling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research