Author(s): Zhao J, Kelnar K, Bader AG
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Abstract Tyrosine kinase inhibitors directed against epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR-TKI), such as erlotinib, are effective in a limited fraction of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the majority of NSCLC and other cancer types remain resistant. Therapeutic miRNA mimics modeled after endogenous tumor suppressor miRNAs inhibit tumor growth by repressing multiple oncogenes at once and, therefore, may be used to augment drug sensitivity. Here, we investigated the relationship of miR-34a and erlotinib and determined the therapeutic activity of the combination in NSCLC cells with primary and acquired erlotinib resistance. The drug combination was also tested in a panel of hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HCC), a cancer type known to be refractory to erlotinib. Using multiple analytical approaches, drug-induced inhibition of cancer cell proliferation was determined to reveal additive, antagonistic or synergistic effects. Our data show a strong synergistic interaction between erlotinib and miR-34a mimics in all cancer cells tested. Synergy was observed across a range of different dose levels and drug ratios, reducing IC50 dose requirements for erlotinib and miR-34a by up to 46-fold and 13-fold, respectively. Maximal synergy was detected at dosages that provide a high level of cancer cell inhibition beyond the one that is induced by the single agents alone and, thus, is of clinical relevance. The data suggest that a majority of NSCLC and other cancers previously not suited for erlotinib may prove sensitive to the drug when used in combination with a miR-34a-based therapy.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy