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Clin Cancer Res. 2012 May 1;18(9):2603-12. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-2750. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Dual mTORC1/2 and HER2 blockade results in antitumor activity in preclinical models of breast cancer resistant to anti-HER2 therapy.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory, Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology, Pg Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.



The PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway is an attractive target in HER2-positive breast cancer that is refractory to anti-HER2 therapy. The hypothesis is that the suppression of this pathway results in sensitization to anti-HER2 agents. However, this combinatorial strategy has not been comprehensively tested in models of trastuzumab and lapatinib resistance.


We analyzed in vitro cell viability and induction of apoptosis in five different cell lines resistant to trastuzumab and lapatinib. Inhibition of HER2/HER3 phosphorylation, PI3K/Akt/mTOR, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathways was evaluated by Western blotting. Tumor growth inhibition after treatment with lapatinib, INK-128, or the combination of both agents was evaluated in three different animal models: two cell-based xenograft models refractory to both trastuzumab and lapatinib and a xenograft derived from a patient who relapsed on trastuzumab-based therapy.


The addition of lapatinib to INK-128 prevented both HER2 and HER3 phosphorylation induced by INK-128, resulting in inhibition of both PI3K/Akt/mTOR and ERK pathways. This dual blockade produced synergistic induction of cell death in five different HER2-positive cell lines resistant to trastuzumab and lapatinib. In vivo, both cell line-based and patient-derived xenografts showed exquisite sensitivity to the antitumor activity of the combination of lapatinib and INK-128, which resulted in durable tumor shrinkage and exhibited no signs of toxicity in these models.


The simultaneous blockade of both PI3K/Akt/mTOR and ERK pathways obtained by combining lapatinib with INK-128 acts synergistically in inducing cell death and tumor regression in breast cancer models refractory to anti-HER2 therapy.

©2012 AACR.

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