Purpose of review: The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway is the most common aberrantly activated pathway in breast cancer, making it an attractive therapeutic target. In this review, we will discuss the rationale for targeting PI3K/AKT signaling and the development of PI3K/AKT inhibitors in breast cancer.
Recent findings: Although the initial clinical trials with pan-PI3K inhibitors were challenged by high toxicities and modest antitumor effect, there has been continued effort to develop agents more precisely targeting PI3K isoforms to improve therapeutic index. Alpelisib in combination with fulvestrant is now available in the clinic for postmenopausal women with advanced or metastatic hormone receptor (HR)-positive, HER2-negative, PIK3CA-mutated breast cancer. In addition, promising data has been observed in randomized phase II trials of AKT inhibitors in combination with fulvestrant or paclitaxel in metastatic HR-positive, HER2-negative disease and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), respectively. The high frequency of genetic alterations in the PI3K pathway has provided the rationale for development of inhibitors targeting PI3K/AKT. Despite initial disappointment with several randomized trials of pan-PI3K inhibitors in HR-positive breast cancer, there has been continued effort to more precisely target PI3K isoforms, which has led to clinical benefit for patients with advanced breast cancer.
Keywords: AKT inhibitor; Breast cancer; PI3K inhibitor; PI3K pathway; Targeted therapy.