Emerging pathways and future targets for the molecular therapy of pancreatic cancer.
ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION: Pancreatic cancer treatment remains a challenge for clinicians and researchers. Despite undisputable advances in the comprehension of the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer development and progression, early disease detection and clinical management of patients has made little, if any, progress in the past 20 years. Clinical development of targeted agents directed against validated pathways, such as the EGF/EGF receptor axis, the mutant KRAS protein, MMPs, and VEGF-mediated angiogenesis, alone or in combination with gemcitabine-based standard chemotherapy, has been disappointing. AREAS COVERED: This review explores the preclinical rationale for clinical approaches aimed at targeting the TGF-β, IGF, Hedgehog, Notch and NF-κB signaling pathways, to develop innovative therapeutic strategies for pancreatic cancer. EXPERT OPINION: Although some of the already clinically explored approaches (particularly EGFR and KRAS targeting) deserve further clinical consideration, by employing more innovative and creative clinical trial designs than the gemcitabine-targeted agent paradigm that has thus far invariably failed, the targeting of emerging and relatively unexplored signaling pathways holds great promise to increase our understanding of the complex molecular biology and to advance the clinical management of pancreatic cancer.
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ABSTRACT: Over the last couple of years, we have witnessed the availability of a wide variety of different therapeutic agents and the identification of effective combinations of existing ones that have transformed the way we approach and treat pancreatic cancer. Proof of this are the recent validations that combinations of conventional chemotherapy drugs, the FOLFIRINOX regimen and gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel, significantly improves clinical outcomes in patients with metastatic disease. However, deeper and more sophisticated understanding of the biology of this cancer as well as the ability to develop better and perhaps more precise drugs predict that the landscape may be changing even more. In this review, we will summarize the most recent treatment advances including FOLFIRINOX, gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel and discuss novel approaches such as immune-mediated therapies, drugs that disrupt the tumor-stromal compartment, PARP inhibitors for BRCA pathway-deficient pancreatic cancer and new generations of conventional chemotherapeutics, which are in early phases of clinical development and have shown promising early results. We will also discuss some examples of drugs that failed, despite very good preliminary data, in order to appraise the lessons learned from these negative clinical trials. Lastly, we will comment on ongoing adjuvant and neoadjuvant trials. We hope that at least some of these will result in positive trials and add to our armamentarium for treating this challenging malignancy.Journal of Gastrointestinal Cancer 12/2013;
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ABSTRACT: Even with successful surgical resection and perioperative chemotherapy and radiation, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) has a high incidence of recurrence. Tumor cell survival depends on activation of signaling pathways that suppress the apoptotic stimuli of invasion and metastasis. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a critical signaling molecule that has been implicated in tumor cell survival, invasion and metastasis. We have previously shown that FAK and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3) are overexpressed in cancer cells and physically interact to confer a significant survival advantage. We subsequently identified a novel small molecule inhibitor C4 that targeted the VEGFR-3-FAK site of interaction. In this study, we have shown that C4 disrupted the FAK-VEGFR-3 complexes in PDA cells. C4 treatment caused dose-dependent dephosphorylation and inactivation of the VEGFR-3 and FAK, reduction in cell viability and proliferation, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in PDA cells. C4 increased the sensitivity of tumor cells to gemcitabine chemotherapy in vitro that lead to apoptosis at nanomolar concentrations of both drugs. C4 reduced tumor growth in vivo in subcutaneous and orthotopic murine models of PDA. The drug alone at low dose, decreased tumor growth; however, concomitant administration with low dose of gemcitabine had significant synergistic effect and led to 70% tumor reduction. Combination of C4 with gemcitabine had a prolonged cytostatic effect on tumor growth after treatment withdrawal. Finally, we report an anecdotal case of stage IV pancreatic cancer treated with gemcitabine in combination with C4 that showed a significant clinical response in primary tumor and complete clinical response in liver metastasis over an eight month period. Taken together, these results demonstrate that targeting the scaffolding function of FAK with a small-molecule FAK-VEGFR-3 inhibitor can be an effective therapeutic strategy against PDA.Oncotarget 10/2013; 4(10):1632-46. · 6.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family consists of four members that belong to the ErbB lineage of proteins (ErbB1-4). These receptors consist of a glycosylated extracellular domain, a single hydrophobic transmembrane segment, and an intracellular portion with a juxtamembrane segment, a protein kinase domain, and a carboxyterminal tail. Seven ligands bind to EGFR including epidermal growth factor and transforming growth factor α, none bind to ErbB2, two bind to ErbB3, and seven ligands bind to ErbB4. The ErbB proteins function as homo and heterodimers. The heterodimer consisting of ErbB2, which lacks a ligand, and ErbB3, which is kinase impaired, is surprisingly the most robust signaling complex of the ErbB family. Growth factor binding to EGFR induces a large conformational change in the extracellular domain, which leads to the exposure of a dimerization arm in domain II of the extracellular segment. Two ligand-EGFR complexes unite to form a back-to-back dimer in which the ligands are on opposite sides of the aggregate. Following ligand binding, EGFR intracellular kinase domains form an asymmetric homodimer that resembles the heterodimer formed by cyclin and cyclin-dependent kinase. The carboxyterminal lobe of the activator kinase of the dimer interacts with the amino-terminal lobe of the receiver kinase thereby leading to its allosteric stimulation. Downstream ErbB signaling modules include the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt (PKB) pathway, the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK1/2 pathway, and the phospholipase C (PLCγ) pathway. Several malignancies are associated with the mutation or increased expression of members of the ErbB family including lung, breast, stomach, colorectal, head and neck, and pancreatic carcinomas and glioblastoma (a brain tumor). Gefitinib, erlotinib, and afatinib are orally effective protein-kinase targeted quinazoline derivatives that are used in the treatment of ERBB1-mutant lung cancer. Lapatinib is an orally effective quinazoline derivative used in the treatment of ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer. Trastuzumab, pertuzumab, and ado-trastuzumab emtansine, which are given intravenously, are monoclonal antibodies that target the extracellular domain and are used for the treatment of ErbB2-positive breast cancer; ado-trastuzumab emtansine is an antibody-drug conjugate that delivers a cytotoxic drug to cells overexpressing ErbB2. Cetuximab and panitumumab are monoclonal antibodies that target ErbB1 and are used in the treatment of colorectal cancer. Cancers treated with these targeted drugs eventually become resistant to them. The role of combinations of targeted drugs or targeted drugs with cytotoxic therapies is being explored in an effort to prevent or delay drug resistance in the treatment of these malignancies.Pharmacological Research 11/2013; · 4.35 Impact Factor