Tumor adaptation and resistance to RAF inhibitors

Nat Med. 2013 Nov;19(11):1401-9. doi: 10.1038/nm.3392.


RAF kinase inhibitors have substantial therapeutic effects in patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma. However, only rarely do tumors regress completely, and the therapeutic effects are often temporary. Several mechanisms of resistance to RAF inhibitors have been proposed. The majority of these cause ERK signaling to become insensitive to treatment with RAF inhibitors by increasing the amount of RAF dimers in cells, whereas others bypass the dependence of the tumor on mutant RAF. One motivation for studying mechanisms of drug resistance is that such efforts may suggest new therapeutic targets or rational combination strategies that delay or prevent the emergence of drug-resistant clones. Here, we review the current model of RAF inhibitor resistance with a focus on the implications of this model on ongoing laboratory and clinical efforts to develop more effective therapeutic strategies for patients with BRAF-mutant tumors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • raf Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • raf Kinases