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Br J Cancer. 2014 Nov 25;111(11):2033-8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.461. Epub 2014 Sep 30.

Targeting molecular addictions in cancer.

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Division of Cancer Therapeutics, The Institute of Cancer Research, Male Urological Cancer Research Centre, 15 Cotswold Road, Sutton, Surrey, UK.


Cancer cells depend on a finite number of critical signals for their survival. Oncogene addiction, that is, the acquired dependence of a cancer cell on the activity of a single oncogenic gene product, has been the basis for the targeted therapy paradigm, and operationally defines such signals. Additionally, cancer cells have altered metabolic requirements that create addictions to specific nutrients such as glucose and glutamine. In this review, I will discuss the therapeutic opportunities that these two types of molecular addictions offer, focusing on lessons learned from targeting members of the epidermal growth factor receptor family of kinases, and components of MAPK pathway. I will also discuss the challenges in simultaneously harnessing two types of molecular addictions for therapeutic benefit, and the importance of understanding not only the effects of oncogenic signal transduction on metabolism, but also the impact of metabolic states on signal transduction.

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