Combined BRAF, EGFR, and MEK Inhibition in Patients with BRAFV600E-Mutant Colorectal Cancer

Cancer Discov. 2018 Apr;8(4):428-443. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-17-1226. Epub 2018 Feb 5.


Although BRAF inhibitor monotherapy yields response rates >50% in BRAFV600-mutant melanoma, only approximately 5% of patients with BRAFV600E colorectal cancer respond. Preclinical studies suggest that the lack of efficacy in BRAFV600E colorectal cancer is due to adaptive feedback reactivation of MAPK signaling, often mediated by EGFR. This clinical trial evaluated BRAF and EGFR inhibition with dabrafenib (D) + panitumumab (P) ± MEK inhibition with trametinib (T) to achieve greater MAPK suppression and improved efficacy in 142 patients with BRAFV600E colorectal cancer. Confirmed response rates for D+P, D+T+P, and T+P were 10%, 21%, and 0%, respectively. Pharmacodynamic analysis of paired pretreatment and on-treatment biopsies found that efficacy of D+T+P correlated with increased MAPK suppression. Serial cell-free DNA analysis revealed additional correlates of response and emergence of KRAS and NRAS mutations on disease progression. Thus, targeting adaptive feedback pathways in BRAFV600E colorectal cancer can improve efficacy, but MAPK reactivation remains an important primary and acquired resistance mechanism.Significance: This trial demonstrates that combined BRAF + EGFR + MEK inhibition is tolerable, with promising activity in patients with BRAFV600E colorectal cancer. Our findings highlight the MAPK pathway as a critical target in BRAFV600E colorectal cancer and the need to optimize strategies inhibiting this pathway to overcome both primary and acquired resistance. Cancer Discov; 8(4); 428-43. ©2018 AACR.See related commentary by Janku, p. 389See related article by Hazar-Rethinam et al., p. 417This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 371.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / therapeutic use
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System*
  • Male
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / drug effects
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / metabolism
  • Oximes / therapeutic use
  • Panitumumab / therapeutic use
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / metabolism
  • Pyridones / therapeutic use
  • Pyrimidinones / therapeutic use


  • Imidazoles
  • Oximes
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyridones
  • Pyrimidinones
  • trametinib
  • Panitumumab
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • dabrafenib