DNA damage response inhibitors: Mechanisms and potential applications in cancer therapy

Laura Carrassa, Giovanna Damia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Over the last decade the unravelling of the molecular mechanisms of the DNA damage response pathways and of the genomic landscape of human tumors have paved the road to new therapeutic approaches in oncology. It is now clear that tumors harbour defects in different DNA damage response steps, mainly signalling and repair, rendering them more dependent on the remaining pathways. We here focus on the proteins ATM, ATR, CHK1 and WEE1, reviewing their roles in the DNA damage response and as targets in cancer therapy. In the last decade specific inhibitors of these proteins have been designed, and their potential antineoplastic activity has been explored both in monotherapy strategies against tumors with specific defects (synthetic lethality approach) and in combination with radiotherapy or chemotherapeutic or molecular targeted agents. The preclinical and clinical evidence of antitumor activity of these inhibitors emanating from these research efforts will be critically reviewed. Lastly, the potential therapeutic feasibility of combining together such inhibitors with the aim to target particular subsets of tumors will be also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-151
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Treatment Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2017


  • ATM
  • ATR
  • CHK1
  • Combination strategies
  • DNA damage response
  • Targeted therapy
  • WEE1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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