Targeting the genetic alterations of the PI3K–AKT–mTOR pathway: Its potential use in the treatment of bladder cancers

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Abstract

Urothelial carcinoma of the bladder is the most frequent tumor of the urinary tract and represents the fifth cause of death by cancer worldwide. The current first line chemotherapy is a combination of cisplatin and gemcitabine with median survival not exceeding 15 months. Vinflunine is the only drug approved by EMEA as second-line treatment and few progresses have been made for the past 20 years to increase the survival of metastatic patients, especially those who are not eligible for cisplatin-based regimen. The recent studies characterizing the genetic background of urothelial cancers of the bladder, revealed chromosomal alterations that are not seen at the same level in other types of cancers. This is especially the case for mutations of genes involved in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway that occupies a major place in the etiology of these tumors. Here, we describe the mutations leading to constitutive activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway and discuss the potential use of the different classes of PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors in the treatment of urothelial bladder cancers. Despite the recent pivotal study evidencing specific mutations of TSC1 in bladder cancer patients responding to everolimus and the encouraging results obtained with other derivatives than rapalogs, few clinical trials are ongoing in bladder cancers. Because of the genetic complexity of these tumors, the cross-talks of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway with other pathways, and the small number of eligible patients, it will be of utmost importance to carefully choose the drugs or drug combinations to be further tested in the clinic.

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