The phosphoinositide 3-kinase signalling pathway as a therapeutic target in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2005 Aug;9(4):769-90. doi: 10.1517/14728222.9.4.769.


Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Despite significant surgical advances and refinement in the delivery of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, prognosis has improved little in recent decades. Better local control has led to the late presentation of distant metastases and novel therapeutic agents are urgently required to prevent relapse, control disseminated disease and thus improve survival. PIK3CA encodes the p110alpha isoform of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K) and is important in SCCHN, aberrations in its activity occurring early in the oncogenic process. PI3-K signalling promotes cell survival, proliferation, invasion and angiogenesis, all contributing to tumour progression. Activation of the PI3-K pathway may also mediate resistance to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and novel therapeutic agents such as epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors. Elements of this signalling matrix, therefore, offer attractive therapeutic targets in SCCHN as inhibition of many malignant characteristics, as well as sensitisation to multiple treatment modalities, could be anticipated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors