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Int J Cancer. 2010 Apr 1;126(7):1549-61. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24926.

The dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor PI-103 promotes immunosuppression, in vivo tumor growth and increases survival of sorafenib-treated melanoma cells.

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Medical Oncology Research Program, Vall d'Hebron Research Institute, Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), Vall d'Hebron Hospital, Barcelona 08035, Spain.


Melanoma is the most lethal human skin cancer. If metastatic, it becomes very aggressive and resistant to standard modalities of anticancer treatment. During the last 10 years, several therapeutic strategies have been tested including the use of single and combined small drugs. Experimental results indicate that RAS and PI3K pathways are important for the development and maintenance of melanoma. In this study, we assessed the in vitro and in vivo inhibition potential of PI-103, a PI3K (p110alpha)/mTOR inhibitor and sorafenib, a BRAF inhibitor, as single agents and in combination in primary melanoma cell lines. Although PI-103 and sorafenib inhibited melanoma in vitro cell proliferation and viability, the inhibition of RAS pathway appeared to be more effective. The combination of the two agents in in vitro showed a synergistic effect inhibiting RAS and PI3K pathways in a cell line dependent manner. However, no cooperative effect was observed in blocking in vivo tumor growth in immunocompetent mice. In contrary to the expected, the data indicate that PI-103 induced immunosuppression promoting in vivo tumor growth and inhibiting apoptosis. Furthermore, in vitro studies examining the effects of the PI3K/mTOR inhibitor in tumor derived cell lines indicated that PI-103 induced the anti-apoptotic BH3 family proteins Mcl1, Bcl2 and Bcl(xL) favoring, the in vitro survival of sorafenib treated melanoma cells. These data certainly makes an argument for investigating unexpected effects of rational drug combinations on immunocompetent animal models prior to conducting clinical studies.

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