Background: The third generation Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) osimertinib has been initially approved for T790M positive Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and more recently for first-line treatment of EGFR-mutant T790M negative NSCLC patients. Similarly to previous generation TKIs, despite the high response rate, disease progression eventually occurs and current clinical research is focused on novel strategies to delay the emergence of osimertinib resistance. In this study we investigated the combination of osimertinib with pemetrexed or cisplatin in EGFR-mutated NSCLC cell lines and xenografts. Methods: Tumor growth was evaluated in a PC9T790M xenograft model and tissue composition was morphometrically determined. PC9, PC9T790M and HCC827 cell lines were employed to test the efficacy of osimertinib and chemotherapy combination in vitro. Cell viability and cell death were evaluated by MTT assay and fluorescence microscopy. Protein expression and gene status were analysed by Western blotting, fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis, next-generation sequencing and digital droplet PCR. Results: In xenograft models, osimertinib significantly inhibited tumor growth, however, as expected, in 50% of mice drug-resistance developed. A combination of osimertinib with pemetrexed or cisplatin prevented or at least delayed the onset of resistance. Interestingly, such combinations increased the fraction of fibrotic tissue and exerted a long-lasting activity after stopping therapy. In vitro studies demonstrated the stronger efficacy of the combination over the single treatments in inhibiting cell proliferation and inducing cell death in PC9T790M cells as well as in T790M negative PC9 and HCC827 cell lines, suggesting the potential role of this strategy also as first-line treatment. Finally, we demonstrated that osimertinib resistant clones, either derived from resistant tumors or generated in vitro, were less sensitive to pemetrexed prompting to use a chemotherapy regimen non-containing pemetrexed in patients after progression to osimertinib treatment. Conclusions: Our results identify a combination between osimertinib and pemetrexed or cisplatin potentially useful in the treatment of EGFR-mutated NSCLC patients, which might delay the appearance of osimertinib resistance with long-lasting effects.
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