Signaling Pathways in Cancer: Therapeutic Targets, Combinatorial Treatments, and New Developments

Hon Yan Kelvin Yip, Antonella Papa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Molecular alterations in cancer genes and associated signaling pathways are used to inform new treatments for precision medicine in cancer. Small molecule inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies directed at relevant cancer-related proteins have been instrumental in delivering successful treatments of some blood malignancies (e.g., imatinib with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)) and solid tumors (e.g., tamoxifen with ER positive breast cancer and trastuzumab for HER2-positive breast cancer). However, inherent limitations such as drug toxicity, as well as acquisition of de novo or acquired mechanisms of resistance, still cause treatment failure. Here we provide an up-to-date review of the successes and limitations of current targeted therapies for cancer treatment and highlight how recent technological advances have provided a new level of understanding of the molecular complexity underpinning resistance to cancer therapies. We also raise three basic questions concerning cancer drug discovery based on molecular markers and alterations of selected signaling pathways, and further discuss how combination therapies may become the preferable approach over monotherapy for cancer treatments. Finally, we consider novel therapeutic developments that may complement drug delivery and significantly improve clinical response and outcomes of cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2021


  • cancer resistance
  • combinatorial treatments
  • oncogenes and tumor suppressors
  • RTK
  • signaling pathways
  • targeted therapies

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