Co-targeting cancer drug escape pathways confers clinical advantage for multi-target anticancer drugs

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Abstract

Graphical abstract

Illustration of the co-inhibition of growth receptor mediated signaling and bypass receptor mediated signaling by a multi-target drug.

Recent investigations have suggested that anticancer therapeutics may be enhanced by co-targeting the primary anticancer target and the corresponding drug escape pathways. Whether this strategy confers statistically significant clinical advantage has not been systematically investigated. This question was probed by the evaluation of the clinical status and the multiple targets of 23 approved and 136 clinical trial multi-target anticancer drugs with particular focus on those co-targeting EGFR, HER2, Abl, VEGFR2, mTOR, PI3K, Alk, MEK, KIT, and DNA topoisomerase, and some of the 14, 7, 13, 20, 6, 5, 7, 2, 4 and 10 cancer drug escape pathways respectively. Most of the approved (73.9%) and phase III (75.0%), the majority of the Phase II (62.8%) and I (53.6%), and the minority of the discontinued (35.3%) multi-target drugs were found to co-target cancer drug escape pathways. This suggests that co-targeting anticancer targets and drug escape pathways confer significant clinical advantage and such strategy can be more extensively explored.

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