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Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2016 Jul;13(7):417-30. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2016.26. Epub 2016 Mar 31.

Treating cancer with selective CDK4/6 inhibitors.

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The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre, The Institute of Cancer Research, Fulham Road, London SW3 6JB, UK.
Division of Haematology/Oncology, Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.
Breast Unit, Royal Marsden Hospital, Fulham Road, London SW3 6JJ, UK.


Uncontrolled cellular proliferation, mediated by dysregulation of the cell-cycle machinery and activation of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) to promote cell-cycle progression, lies at the heart of cancer as a pathological process. Clinical implementation of first-generation, nonselective CDK inhibitors, designed to inhibit this proliferation, was originally hampered by the high risk of toxicity and lack of efficacy noted with these agents. The emergence of a new generation of selective CDK4/6 inhibitors, including ribociclib, abemaciclib and palbociclib, has enabled tumour types in which CDK4/6 has a pivotal role in the G1-to-S-phase cell-cycle transition to be targeted with improved effectiveness, and fewer adverse effects. Results of pivotal phase III trials investigating palbociclib in patients with advanced-stage oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer have demonstrated a substantial improvement in progression-free survival, with a well-tolerated toxicity profile. Mechanisms of acquired resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors are beginning to emerge that, although unwelcome, might enable rational post-CDK4/6 inhibitor therapeutic strategies to be identified. Extending the use of CDK4/6 inhibitors beyond ER-positive breast cancer is challenging, and will likely require biomarkers that are predictive of a response, and the use of combination therapies in order to optimize CDK4/6 targeting.

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