Mount Sinai researchers have discovered a new drug combination that could provide the first targeted therapy for some of the deadliest cancers, as well as molecular predictors of tumor response to the therapy, according to a study published in Cell Reports in January.
Certain of these deadly cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer as well as pancreatic, lung, and colorectal cancers, occur when normally occurring proteins, including those called KRAS or BRAF, in the cells mutate and cause tumors. These tumors are responsive to small-molecule drugs called RAF and MEK inhibitors; however, drug resistance limits the effectiveness of these therapies. The Mount Sinai researchers found that adding another small molecule, called an SHP2 inhibitor, can prevent drug resistance in many patients with these tumors. The newly discovered drug combination would strengthen the effect of the RAF and MEK inhibitors by slowing, and potentially stopping, the cancer’s ability to build up resistance to the drugs.
“Our findings provide a blueprint for the clinical development of this potentially powerful treatment strategy for a large portion of patients with triple-negative breast cancer or other tumors that that are driven by mutated proteins like KRAS and BRAF,” said the study’s lead author, Poulikos I. Poulikakos, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncological Sciences at The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
The study also identified biomarkers that could predict a patient’s response to the combination therapy, providing a roadmap for the translation of this strategy to the clinic. Scientists made the discoveries by integrating biochemical studies with preclinical assessment of the drug combination using cancer tumor cell lines and tumors engrafted in mice.
Feature Courtesy of Mt.Sinai New York.