Abstract: Uncontrolled proliferation is the hallmark of cancer and other proliferative disorders and abnormal cell cycle regulation is, therefore, common in these diseases. Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) play a crucial role in the control of the cell cycle and proliferation. These kinases are frequently deregulated in various cancers, viral infections, neurodegenerative diseases, ischemia and some proliferative disorders. This led to a rigorous pursuit for small-molecule CDK inhibitors for therapeutic uses. Early efforts to block CDKs with nonselective CDK inhibitors led to little specificity and efficacy but apparent toxicity, but the recent advance of selective CDK inhibitors allowed the first successful efforts to target these kinases for the therapies of several diseases. Major ongoing efforts are to develop CDK inhibitors as monotherapies and rational combinations with chemotherapy and other targeted drugs.
Abstract: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a cluster of heterogeneous diseases, all of them sharing the lack of expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors and HER2 protein. They are characterized by different biological, molecular and clinical features, including a poor prognosis despite the increased sensitivity to the current cytotoxic therapies. Several studies have identified important molecular features which enable further subdivision of this type of tumor. We are drawing from genomics, transcription and translation analysis at different levels, to improve our knowledge of the molecular alterations along the pathways which are activated during carcinogenesis and tumor progression. How this information should be used for the rational selection of therapy is an ongoing challenge and the subject of numerous research studies in progress. Currently, the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), HSP90 and Aurora inhibitors are most used as targeting agents in metastatic setting clinical trials. In this paper we will review the current knowledge about the genetic subtypes of TNBC and their different responses to conventional therapeutic strategies, as well as to some new promising molecular target agents, aimed to achieve more tailored therapies.
Abstract: Viruses are the causative agents of 10%–15% of human cancers worldwide. The most common outcome for virus-induced reprogramming is genomic instability, including accumulation of mutations, aberrations and DNA damage. Although each virus has its own specific mechanism for promoting carcinogenesis, the majority of DNA oncogenic viruses encode oncogenes that transform infected cells, frequently by targeting p53 and pRB. In addition, integration of viral DNA into the human genome can also play an important role in promoting tumor development for several viruses, including HBV and HPV. Because viral integration requires the breakage of both the viral and the host DNA, the integration rate is believed to be linked to the levels of DNA damage. DNA damage can be caused by both endogenous and exogenous factors, including inflammation induced by either the virus itself or by co-infections with other agents, environmental agents and other factors. Typically, cancer develops years to decades following the initial infection. A better understanding of virus-mediated carcinogenesis, the networking of pathways involved in transformation and the relevant risk factors, particularly in those cases where tumorigenesis proceeds by way of virus integration, will help to suggest prophylactic and therapeutic strategies to reduce the risk of virus-mediated cancer.
Abstract: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) occurs mainly in people older than 50 years of age. Although great strides have been taken in treating PDAC over the past decades its incidence nearly equals its mortality rate and it was quoted as the 4th leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2012. This review aims to focus on research models and scientific developments that help to explain the extraordinary resistance of PDAC towards current therapeutic regimens. Furthermore, it highlights the main features of drug resistance including mechanisms promoted by cancer cells or cancer stem cells (CSCs), as well as stromal cells, and the acellular components surrounding the tumor cells—known as peritumoral desmoplasia—that affects intra-tumoral drug delivery. Finally, therapeutic concepts and avenues for future research are suggested, based on the topics discussed.
Abstract: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive cutaneous neuroendocrine malignancy that is associated with a poor prognosis. The pathogenesis of MCC is not well understood, and despite a recent plethora of mutational analyses, we have yet to find a set of signature mutations implicated in the majority of cases. Mutations, including TP53, Retinoblastoma and PIK3CA, have been documented in subsets of patients. Other mechanisms are also likely at play, including infection with the Merkel cell polyomavirus in a subset of patients, dysregulated immune surveillance, epigenetic alterations, aberrant protein expression, posttranslational modifications and microRNAs. In this review, we summarize what is known about MCC genetic mutations and chromosomal abnormalities, and their clinical significance. We also examine aberrant protein function and microRNA expression, and discuss the therapeutic and prognostic implications of these findings. Multiple clinical trials designed to selectively target overexpressed oncogenes in MCC are currently underway, though most are still in early phases. As we accumulate more molecular data on MCC, we will be better able to understand its pathogenic mechanisms, develop libraries of targeted therapies, and define molecular prognostic signatures to enhance our clinicopathologic knowledge.
Abstract: Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is one of the most aggressive lung tumors. The majority of patients with SCLC are diagnosed at an advanced stage. This tumor type is highly sensitive to chemo-radiation treatment, with very high response rates, but invariably relapses. At this time, treatment options are still limited and the prognosis of these patients is poor. A better knowledge of the molecular biology of SCLC allowed us to identify potential druggable targets. Among these, the MET/HGF axis seems to be one of the most aberrant signaling pathways involved in SCLC invasiveness and progression. In this review, we describe briefly all recent literature on the different molecular profiling in SCLC; in particular, we discuss the specific alterations involving c-MET gene and their implications as a potential target in SCLC.