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Papers: 8 Jun 2024 - 14 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 12

Sci Transl Med




Nutrient-sensitizing drug repurposing screen identifies lomerizine as a mitochondrial metabolism inhibitor of chronic myeloid leukemia.


Khalaf A, de Beauchamp L, Kalkman E, Rattigan K, Himonas E, Jones J, James D, Shokry ESA, Scott MT, Dunn K, Tardito S, Copland M, Sumpton D, Shanks E, Helgason GV


In chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), the persistence of leukemic stem cells (LSCs) after treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), such as imatinib, can lead to disease relapse. It is known that therapy-resistant LSCs rely on oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) for their survival and that targeting mitochondrial respiration sensitizes CML LSCs to imatinib treatment. However, current OXPHOS inhibitors have demonstrated limited efficacy or have shown adverse effects in clinical trials, highlighting that identification of clinically safe oxidative pathway inhibitors is warranted. We performed a high-throughput drug repurposing screen designed to identify mitochondrial metabolism inhibitors in myeloid leukemia cells. This identified lomerizine, a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved voltage-gated Ca channel blocker now used for the treatment of migraines, as one of the top hits. Transcriptome analysis revealed increased expression of voltage-gated and receptor-activated Ca channels in CML LSCs (CD34CD38) compared with normal counterparts. This correlated with increased endoplasmic reticulum (ER) mass and increased ER and mitochondrial Ca content in CML stem/progenitor cells. We demonstrate that lomerizine-mediated inhibition of Ca uptake leads to ER and mitochondrial Ca depletion, with similar effects seen after and knockdown. Through stable isotope-assisted metabolomics and functional assays, we observe that lomerizine treatment inhibits mitochondrial isocitrate dehydrogenase activity and mitochondrial oxidative metabolism and selectively sensitizes CML LSCs to imatinib treatment. In addition, combination treatment with imatinib and lomerizine reduced CML tumor burden, targeted CML LSCs, and extended survival in xenotransplantation model of human CML, suggesting this as a potential therapeutic strategy to prevent disease relapse in patients.