KRAS mutations drive a quarter of cancer mortality, and most are undruggable. Several inhibitors of the MAPK pathway are FDA approved but poorly tolerated at the doses needed to adequately extinguish RAS/RAF/MAPK signaling in the tumor cell. We found that oncogenic KRAS signaling induced ferrous iron (Fe2+) accumulation early in and throughout mutant KRAS-mediated transformation. We converted an FDA-approved MEK inhibitor into a ferrous iron–activatable drug conjugate (FeADC) and achieved potent MAPK blockade in tumor cells while sparing normal tissues. This innovation allowed sustainable, effective treatment of tumor-bearing animals, with tumor-selective drug activation, producing superior systemic tolerability. Ferrous iron accumulation is an exploitable feature of KRAS transformation, and FeADCs hold promise for improving the treatment of KRAS-driven solid tumors.
- Solid tumors
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