SHP2 inhibition restores sensitivity in ALK-rearranged non-small-cell lung cancer resistant to ALK inhibitors
Most anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-rearranged non-small-cell lung tumors initially respond to small-molecule ALK inhibitors, but drug resistance often develops1,2,3,4. Of tumors that develop resistance to highly potent second-generation ALK inhibitors, approximately half harbor resistance mutations in ALK, while the other half have other mechanisms underlying resistance. Members of the latter group often have activation of at least one of several different tyrosine kinases driving resistance5. Such tumors are not expected to respond to lorlatinib—a third-generation inhibitor targeting ALK that is able to overcome all clinically identified resistant mutations in ALK5,6—and further therapeutic options are limited5. Herein, we deployed a shRNA screen of 1,000 genes in multiple ALK-inhibitor-resistant patient-derived cells (PDCs) to discover those that confer sensitivity to ALK inhibition. This approach identified SHP2, a nonreceptor protein tyrosine phosphatase, as a common targetable resistance node in multiple PDCs. SHP2 provides a parallel survival input downstream of multiple tyrosine kinases that promote resistance to ALK inhibitors. Treatment with SHP099, the recently discovered small-molecule inhibitor of SHP2, in combination with the ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) ceritinib halted the growth of resistant PDCs through preventing compensatory RAS and ERK1 and ERK2 (ERK1/2) reactivation. These findings suggest that combined ALK and SHP2 inhibition may be a promising therapeutic strategy for resistant cancers driven by several different ALK-independent mechanisms underlying resistance.