FAK-targeting PROTAC demonstrates enhanced antitumor activity against KRAS mutant non-small cell lung cancer

Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) has been established as a promising therapeutic target for KRAS mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, phase II clinical trials of a FAK inhibitor (Defactinib) have only shown modest antitumor activity. To address this challenge, here we report the use of a FAK-targeting proteolysis targeting chimera (D-PROTAC) to treat KRAS mutant NSCLC. We validated that D-PROTAC could efficiently eliminate FAK protein via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway in KRAS mutant NSCLC A427 cells, causing over 90% degradation at 800 nM. After comparing both in vitro and in vivo therapeutic efficacies, we demonstrated that D-PRTOAC outperformed Defactinib in inhibiting tumor growth. Specifically, D-PROTAC at 800 nM reduced cell viability, migration, and invasion by ∼80%. Furthermore, a ∼85% suppression of tumor growth was elicited by D-PROTAC when intratumorally administrated at 10 mg/kg in subcutaneous A427-bearing mice. These results thus demonstrate for the first time that PROTACs may serve as promising therapeutic agents for the intractable NSCLC harboring KRAS mutations.

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