Adaptive resistance to RAF inhibitors in melanoma.

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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research.

Volume 27, Issue 6, 1 November 2014, Pages 1032-1038.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1111/pcmr.12264

Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons A/S.


The discovery of activating mutations in BRAF at high frequency in cutaneous melanoma opened the door to new treatment options, which have resulted in significantly better patient outcomes. Treatments such as the FDA-approved RAF inhibitor vemurafenib and the more recently approved dabrafenib and trametinib combination therapy are designed to target the ERK1/2 pathway. Initial success in targeting this pathway is evidenced by the high percentage of melanoma patients who undergo tumor remission. However, the beneficial effects of these targeted therapies are usually short-lived due to the development of resistance, which leads to disease progression. As a result, studies have focused on the acquired forms of resistance that develop following continued exposure to therapy. Conversely, far fewer studies have investigated the adaptive forms of resistance, which activate rapidly, promote cell survival, and may underlie the development of acquired resistance by providing melanoma cells the time to develop additional mutations. We provide a detailed review of the known mechanisms of adaptive resistance in melanoma and relate them to similar responses to targeted therapies in other tumor types.

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