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Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2018 Apr;15(4):234-248. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2018.8. Epub 2018 Feb 6.

Targeting the IL-6/JAK/STAT3 signalling axis in cancer.

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Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


The IL-6/JAK/STAT3 pathway is aberrantly hyperactivated in many types of cancer, and such hyperactivation is generally associated with a poor clinical prognosis. In the tumour microenvironment, IL-6/JAK/STAT3 signalling acts to drive the proliferation, survival, invasiveness, and metastasis of tumour cells, while strongly suppressing the antitumour immune response. Thus, treatments that target the IL-6/JAK/STAT3 pathway in patients with cancer are poised to provide therapeutic benefit by directly inhibiting tumour cell growth and by stimulating antitumour immunity. Agents targeting IL-6, the IL-6 receptor, or JAKs have already received FDA approval for the treatment of inflammatory conditions or myeloproliferative neoplasms and for the management of certain adverse effects of chimeric antigen receptor T cells, and are being further evaluated in patients with haematopoietic malignancies and in those with solid tumours. Novel inhibitors of the IL-6/JAK/STAT3 pathway, including STAT3-selective inhibitors, are currently in development. Herein, we review the role of IL-6/JAK/STAT3 signalling in the tumour microenvironment and the status of preclinical and clinical investigations of agents targeting this pathway. We also discuss the potential of combining IL-6/JAK/STAT3 inhibitors with currently approved therapeutic agents directed against immune-checkpoint inhibitors.

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