Rational combination of SHP2 and mTOR inhibition for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.


Liver cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide, with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) being the main primary malignancy affecting the liver. Unfortunately, there are still limited therapeutic options for HCC, and even the latest advances have only increased the overall survival modestly. Thus, new treatment strategies and rational drug combinations are urgently needed. Reactivation of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) has been described as a mechanism of intrinsic resistance to targeted therapies in a variety of cancers, including inhibitors of mTOR. The design of rational combination therapies to overcome this type of resistance is complicated by the notion that multiple RTK can be upregulated during the acquisition of resistance. SHP2, encoded by the gene PTPN11, acts downstream of virtually all RTK, and has proven to be a good target for small molecule inhibitors. Here, we report activation of multiple RTK upon mTOR inhibition in HCC which, through SHP2, leads to reactivation of the mTOR pathway. We show that co-inhibition of both mTOR and SHP2 is highly synergistic in vitro by triggering apoptosis. More importantly, the combination is well-tolerated and outperforms the monotherapies in impairing tumor growth in multiple HCC mouse models. Our findings suggest a novel rational combination therapy for the treatment of HCC.

More about this publication

Molecular oncology
  • Volume 17
  • Issue nr. 6
  • Pages 964-980
  • Publication date 01-06-2023

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