Combining kinase inhibitors for optimally co-targeting cancer and drug escape by exploitation of drug target promiscuities

Drug Dev Res. 2021 Feb;82(1):133-142. doi: 10.1002/ddr.21738. Epub 2020 Sep 15.


Cancers resist targeted therapeutics by drug-escape signaling. Multitarget drugs co-targeting cancer and drug-escape mediators (DEMs) are clinically advantageous. DEM coverage may be expanded by drug combinations. This work evaluated to what extent the kinase DEMs (KDEMs) can be optimally co-targeted by drug combinations based on target promiscuities of individual drugs. We focused on 41 approved and 28 clinical trial small molecule kinase inhibitor drugs with available experimental kinome and clinical pharmacokinetic data. From the kinome inhibitory profiles of these drugs, drug combinations were assembled for optimally co-targeting an established cancer target (EGFR, HER2, ABL1, or MEK1) and 9-16 target-associated KDEMs at comparable potency levels as that against the cancer target. Each set of two-, three-, and four-drug combinations co-target 36-71%, 44-89%, 50-88%, and 27-55% KDEMs of EGFR, HER2, ABL1, and MEK1, respectively, compared with the 36, 33, 38, and 18% KDEMs maximally co-targeted by an existing drug or drug combination approved or clinically tested for the respective cancer. Some co-targeted KDEMs are not covered by any existing drug or drug combination. Our work suggested that novel drug combinations may be constructed for optimally co-targeting cancer and drug escape by the exploitation of drug target promiscuities.

Keywords: anticancer; drug combinations; drug resistance.