N Cook, KK Frese, TE Bapiro, MA Jacobetz, A Gopinathan, JL Miller, SS Rao, T Demuth, WJ Howat, DI Jodrell, DA Tuveson
J Exp Med
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is a highly lethal disease that is refractory to medical intervention. Notch pathway antagonism has been shown to prevent pancreatic preneoplasia progression in mouse models, but potential benefits in the setting of an established PDA tumor have not been established. We demonstrate that the gamma secretase inhibitor MRK003 effectively inhibits intratumoral Notch signaling in the KPC mouse model of advanced PDA. Although MRK003 monotherapy fails to extend the lifespan of KPC mice, the combination of MRK003 with the chemotherapeutic gemcitabine prolongs survival. Combination treatment kills tumor endothelial cells and synergistically promotes widespread hypoxic necrosis. These results indicate that the paucivascular nature of PDA can be exploited as a therapeutic vulnerability, and the dual targeting of the tumor endothelium and neoplastic cells by gamma secretase inhibition constitutes a rationale for clinical translation.