Towards combinatorial targeted therapy in melanoma: From pre-clinical evidence to clinical application (Review)

Giulia Grazia, Ilaria Penna, Valentina Perotti, Andrea Anichini, Elena Tassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the last few years, clinical trials with BRAF and mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MEK) inhibitors have shown significant clinical activity in melanoma, but only a fraction of patients respond to these therapies, and development of resistance is frequent. This has prompted a large set of preclinical studies looking at several new combinatorial approaches of pathway- or target-specific inhibitors. At least five main drug association strategies have been verified in vitro and in preclinical models. The most promising include: i) vertical targeting of either MEK or phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways, or their combined blockade; ii) association of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) inhibitors with other pro-apoptotic strategies; iii) engagement of death receptors in combination with MEK-, mTOR/PI3K-, histone deacetylase (HDAC)-inhibitors, or with anti-apoptotic molecules modulators; iv) strategies aimed at blocking anti-apoptotic proteins belonging to B-cell lymphoma (Bcl-2) or inhibitors of apoptosis (IAP) families associated with MEK/BRAF/p38 inhibition; v) co-inhibition of other molecules important for survival [proteasome, HDAC and Signal transducers and activators of transcription (Stat)3] and the major pathways activated in melanoma; vi) simultaneous targeting of multiple anti-apoptotic molecules. Here we review the anti-melanoma efficacy and mechanism of action of the above-mentioned combinatorial strategies, together with the potential clinical application of the most promising studies that may eventually lead to therapeutic benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-949
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Apoptosis
  • Combinatorial treatment
  • Melanoma
  • Targeted therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)


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