Restraining Network Response to Targeted Cancer Therapies Improves Efficacy and Reduces Cellular Resistance

Cancer Res. 2018 Aug 1;78(15):4344-4359. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-2001. Epub 2018 May 29.


A key tool of cancer therapy has been targeted inhibition of oncogene-addicted pathways. However, efficacy has been limited by progressive emergence of resistance as transformed cells adapt. Here, we use Drosophila to dissect response to targeted therapies. Treatment with a range of kinase inhibitors led to hyperactivation of overall cellular networks, resulting in emergent resistance and expression of stem cell markers, including Sox2. Genetic and drug screens revealed that inhibitors of histone deacetylases, proteasome, and Hsp90 family of proteins restrained this network hyperactivation. These "network brake" cocktails, used as adjuncts, prevented emergent resistance and promoted cell death at subtherapeutic doses. Our results highlight a general response of cells, transformed and normal, to targeted therapies that leads to resistance and toxicity. Pairing targeted therapeutics with subtherapeutic doses of broad-acting "network brake" drugs may provide a means of extending therapeutic utility while reducing whole body toxicity.Significance: These findings with a strong therapeutic potential provide an innovative approach of identifying effective combination treatments for cancer. Cancer Res; 78(15); 4344-59. ©2018 AACR.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects*
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors
  • Histone Deacetylases