A Convergence-Based Framework for Cancer Drug Resistance

Cancer Cell. 2018 May 14;33(5):801-815. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2018.03.025.


Despite advances in cancer biology and therapeutics, drug resistance remains problematic. Resistance is often multifactorial, heterogeneous, and prone to undersampling. Nonetheless, many individual mechanisms of targeted therapy resistance may coalesce into a smaller number of convergences, including pathway reactivation (downstream re-engagement of original effectors), pathway bypass (recruitment of a parallel pathway converging on the same downstream output), and pathway indifference (development of a cellular state independent of the initial therapeutic target). Similar convergences may also underpin immunotherapy resistance. Such parsimonious, convergence-based frameworks may help explain resistance across tumor types and therapeutic categories and may also suggest strategies to overcome it.

Keywords: cancer; drug resistance; heterogeneity; immunotherapy; precision medicine; targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Precision Medicine


  • Biomarkers, Tumor