Figure 1. Neuregulin signaling in chemotherapy-resistant lung cancer. Hegde et al. have uncovered a mechanism for chemotherapy resistance in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

In NSCLC tumors, a small number of cancer cells have high levels of neuregulin 1 (NRG1), an autocrine signaling protein that activates epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (EGFR3; HER3; ErbB3) and HER4 (EGFR4; ErbB4) [a]. Those cells are protected from the toxic effects of a variety of chemotherapeutic agents [b] and go on to proliferate after chemotherapy to reconstitute the tumor [c].

Roche's Genentech Inc. unit has discovery stage antibodies against NRG1 that prevent survival of NRG1-expressing cells during chemotherapy.