This week in therapeutics




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Breast cancer

Dual specificity phosphatase 4 (DUSP4; MKP2); c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK); MEK

In vitro and mouse studies suggest inhibiting MEK and JNK could help treat triple-negative breast cancer by targeting cancer stem cells. DUSP4 normally suppresses MEK and JNK pathways, but it is downregulated in basal-like breast cancer cells. In cultured, triple-negative, basal-like breast cancer cells, inhibition of MEK and JNK or overexpression of DUSP4 decreased expression of cancer stem cell markers compared with no treatment. Next steps could include testing MEK and JNK inhibition in animal models of the cancer.
GlaxoSmithKline plc markets Mekinist trametinib (GSK1120212), a small molecule MEK inhibitor, to treat melanoma. At least 14 other companies have MEK inhibitors in Phase III testing or earlier to treat various cancers.

SciBX 6(37); doi:10.1038/scibx.2013.1020
Published online Sept. 26, 2013

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Balko, J.M. et al. Cancer Res.; published online Aug. 21, 2013;
Contact: Carlos L. Arteaga, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.