The Peptide-Drug Conjugate Melflufen Modulates the Unfolded Protein Response of Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidogenic Plasma Cells and Induces Cell Death

Ken Flanagan, Romika Kumari, Juho J. Miettinen, Staci L. Haney, Michelle L. Varney, Jacob T. Williams, Muntasir M. Majumder, Minna Suvela, Ana Slipicevic, Fredrik Lehmann, Nina N. Nupponen, Sarah A. Holstein, Caroline A. Heckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Immunoglobulin light-chain (AL) amyloidosis is a rare disease caused by clonal plasma cell secretion of misfolded light chains that assemble as toxic amyloid fibrils, depositing in vital organs including the heart and kidneys, causing organ dysfunction. Plasma cell-directed therapeutics are expected to reduce production of toxic light chain by eliminating amyloidogenic cells in bone marrow, thereby diminishing amyloid fibril deposition and providing the potential for organ recovery. Melphalan flufenamide (melflufen) is a first-in-class peptide-drug conjugate that targets aminopeptidases and rapidly releases alkylating agents inside tumor cells. Melflufen is highly lipophilic, permitting rapid uptake by cells, where it is enzymatically hydrolyzed by aminopeptidases, resulting in intracellular accumulation of the alkylating agents, including melphalan. Previous data demonstrating sensitivity of myeloma cells to melflufen suggest that the drug might be useful in AL amyloidosis. We describe the effects of melflufen on amyloidogenic plasma cells in vitro and ex vivo, demonstrating enhanced cytotoxic effects in comparison to melphalan, as well as novel mechanisms of action through the unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway. These findings provide evidence that melflufen-mediated cytotoxicity extends to amyloidogenic plasma cells, and support the rationale for the evaluation of melflufen in patients with AL amyloidosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E687
JournalHemaSphere
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 25 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology

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