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Nat Med. 2013 Nov;19(11):1381-8. doi: 10.1038/nm.3369. Epub 2013 Oct 7.

Mechanisms of resistance to therapies targeting BRCA-mutant cancers.

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The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre and Cancer Research UK Gene Function Laboratory, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK.


Synthetic lethality provides a potential mechanistic framework for the therapeutic targeting of genetic and functional deficiencies in cancers and is now being explored widely. The first clinical exemplification of synthetic lethality in cancer has been the exploitation of inhibitors of poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) for the treatment of cancers with defects in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 tumor suppressor proteins, which are involved in the repair of DNA damage. Although this approach has shown promise, multiple potential resistance mechanisms have been identified. In this Perspective, we discuss these mechanisms and their relevance to the development of selective therapies for BRCA-deficient cancers.

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