The ERBB network: at last, cancer therapy meets systems biology

Nat Rev Cancer. 2012 Jul 12;12(8):553-63. doi: 10.1038/nrc3309.


Although it is broadly agreed that the improved treatment of patients with cancer will depend on a deeper molecular understanding of the underlying pathogenesis, only a few examples are already available. This Timeline article focuses on the ERBB (also known as HER) network of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), which exemplifies how a constant dialogue between basic research and medical oncology can translate into both a sustained pipeline of novel drugs and ways to overcome acquired treatment resistance in patients. We track the key early discoveries that linked this RTK family to oncogenesis, the course of pioneering clinical research and their merger into a systems-biology framework that is likely to inspire further generations of effective therapeutic strategies.

Trial registration: NCT00553358.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Drug Discovery / methods
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins v-erbB / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins v-erbB / metabolism*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Systems Biology / methods


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Oncogene Proteins v-erbB
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases

Associated data