HEPATOCELLULAR CANCER: The FGFR4 inhibitor fisogatinib produced ORR 17% for FGF19+ tumours (IHC); responses were not seen in FGF19-negative cases. Resistance was associated with the appearance of gatekeeper mutations.
Acquired On-Target Clinical Resistance Validates FGFR4 as a Driver of Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide, with no clinically confirmed oncogenic driver. Although preclinical studies implicate the FGF19 receptor, FGFR4, in hepatocarcinogenesis, dependence of human cancer on FGFR4 has not been demonstrated. Fisogatinib (BLU-554) is a potent and selective inhibitor of FGFR4 and demonstrates clinical benefit and tumor regression in HCC patients with aberrant FGF19 expression. Mutations were identified in the gatekeeper and hinge-1 residues in the kinase domain of FGFR4 upon disease progression in 2 patients treated with fisogatinib, which were confirmed to mediate resistance in vitro and in vivo. A gatekeeper-agnostic, pan-FGFR inhibitor decreased HCC xenograft growth in the presence of these mutations, demonstrating continued FGF19-FGFR4 pathway dependence. These results validate FGFR4 as an oncogenic driver and warrant further therapeutic targeting of this kinase in the clinic.
Outcomes for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain poor despite recent progress in drug development. Emerging data implicate FGF19 as a potential HCC driver, suggesting its receptor, FGFR4, as a novel therapeutic target. We evaluated fisogatinib (BLU-554), a highly potent and selective oral FGFR4 inhibitor, in a phase I dose-escalation/dose-expansion study in advanced HCC using FGF19 expression measured by IHC as a biomarker for pathway activation. For dose escalation, 25 patients received 140 to 900 mg fisogatinib once daily; the maximum tolerated dose (600 mg once daily) was expanded in 81 patients. Fisogatinib was well tolerated; most adverse events were manageable, grade 1/2 gastrointestinal events, primarily diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Across doses, the overall response rate was 17% in FGF19-positive patients [median duration of response: 5.3 months (95% CI, 3.7–not reached)] and 0% in FGF19-negative patients. These results validate FGFR4 as a targetable driver in FGF19-positive advanced HCC.