Discovery May Lead to Reduced Resistance to Cancer Drug Combination

New findings demonstrating differing mechanisms may contribute to a better understanding of acquired resistance to combination drug treatment in cancer.

The underlying mechanisms of acquired resistance (AQR) to combination drug treatment in cancer was found to differ from the mechanisms of AQR to treatment with individual drugs.

AQR is the lack of response to drug treatment that occurs after months of continued treatment and often leads to cancer recurrence. Today, oncologists often use combinational drug therapy to help attack the cancer more effectively.

To understand AQR to combination drug therapy, researchers traditionally study the mechanisms of AQR to individual drugs, and then add up the effects. However, in a new study published by Oncotarget, researchers took a different approach.

Investigators instead decided to study a combination treatment that is currently being tested for colorectal cancer in clinical trials. They found that the mechanisms of AQR to the drugs applied in combination differed from the mechanisms of AQR to treatment with individual drugs.

A major reason for this was that AQR to combination treatment included the effects of the interaction of the drugs, in addition to the effects of the individual drugs. AQR to the individual drugs, however, did not include the effects of the drug interaction.

“Our study sets the precedent for studying drug combinations, and not just individual drugs, to develop better strategies for treating AQR to combination therapies,” said lead researcher Richie Soong.

Lead researcher Bhaskar Bhattacharya added, “Moving forward, we are studying the mechanism of AQR for other combination treatments. We are also extending our studies to understand drug resistance in tumor models that better simulate the tumor environment. Additionally, we will also be studying cancer as a multi-factor system to help predict AQR.”