DOI: 10.3390/ijms25031631 ISSN: 1422-0067

Inhibition of the RAF/MEK/ERK Signaling Cascade in Pancreatic Cancer: Recent Advances and Future Perspectives

Christos Adamopoulos, Donatella Delle Cave, Athanasios G. Papavassiliou
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • Catalysis

Pancreatic cancer represents a formidable challenge in oncology, primarily due to its aggressive nature and limited therapeutic options. The prognosis of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the main form of pancreatic cancer, remains disappointingly poor with a 5-year overall survival of only 5%. Almost 95% of PDAC patients harbor Kirsten rat sarcoma virus (KRAS) oncogenic mutations. KRAS activates downstream intracellular pathways, most notably the rapidly accelerated fibrosarcoma (RAF)/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling axis. Dysregulation of the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway is a crucial feature of pancreatic cancer and therefore its main components, RAF, MEK and ERK kinases, have been targeted pharmacologically, largely by small-molecule inhibitors. The recent advances in the development of inhibitors not only directly targeting the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway but also indirectly through inhibition of its regulators, such as Src homology-containing protein tyrosine phosphatase 2 (SHP2) and Son of sevenless homolog 1 (SOS1), provide new therapeutic opportunities. Moreover, the discovery of allele-specific small-molecule inhibitors against mutant KRAS variants has brought excitement for successful innovations in the battle against pancreatic cancer. Herein, we review the recent advances in targeted therapy and combinatorial strategies with focus on the current preclinical and clinical approaches, providing critical insight, underscoring the potential of these efforts and supporting their promise to improve the lives of patients with PDAC.

More from our Archive