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1.  Notch signaling in lung cancer 
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the Western world. Lungs can be affected by a number of histologically diverse malignancies. Nonetheless, the vast majority of lung cancers are classified as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Despite extensive research on different therapeutic regimens, the overall 5-year survival of patients diagnosed with NSCLC (all stages) is a dismal 15%. Although strongly correlated with tobacco smoke, there is an increasing NSCLC morbidity in individuals who have never smoked. The pattern of genetic lesions found in NSCLC derived from smokers and never-smokers appears to be different. This fact led to the hypothesis that different, still unidentified carcinogens are responsible for lung cancer onset in never-smokers. All the above considerations compel the scientific community to find novel therapeutic targets to fight such a deadly disease.
In recent years critical pathways governing embryonic development have been increasingly linked to cancer. Here we will focus on the role of Notch signaling in lung cancer. Notch receptors’ activity can be blocked following different strategies, thus representing a promising alternative/complement to the arsenal of therapeutic strategies currently used to treat lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3380361  PMID: 21504320
lung cancer; cancer progenitor cells; Notch signaling; hypoxia; cancer stem cells; Notch signaling inhibition
2.  Multimodality Approaches to Treat Hypoxic Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) Microenvironment 
Genes & Cancer  2012;3(2):141-151.
We found both in vitro and in vivo that survival of NSCLC cells in a hypoxic microenvironment requires Notch-1 signaling. A hypoxic tumor environment represents a problem for NSCLC treatment because it plays a critical role in cancer resistance to chemotherapy, tumor recurrence, and metastasis. Here we targeted hypoxic tumor tissue in an orthotopic NSCLC model. We inhibited the Notch-1/IGF-1R/Akt-1 axis using 3 agents: a γ-secretase inhibitor or GSI (MRK-003), a fully humanized antibody against the human IGF-1R (MK-0646), and a pan-Akt inhibitor (MK-2206), alone or in various combinations including therapeutics currently in clinical use. All treatments but Akt inhibition significantly prolonged the median survival of mice compared with controls. GSI treatment caused specific cell death of hypoxic tumors. Tumors excised from mice displayed a significant reduction of markers of hypoxia. Moreover, GSI treatment caused reduced metastasis to the liver and brain. MK-0646 was not specific to a hypoxic tumor environment but substantially increased the median survival of treated mice compared with controls. NSCLC cells evaded MK-0646 treatment by specifically overactivating EGF-R both in vivo and in 5 cell lines in vitro. This phenomenon is achieved at the level of protein stability. MK-0646 treatment caused increased erlotinib sensitivity in NSCLC cells poorly responsive to it. Sequential treatment with MK-0646 followed by erlotinib prolonged median survival of mice significantly. When the 2 drugs were administered simultaneously, no survival benefit was observed, and this combination therapy proved less effective than MK-0646 used as single agent. Our data offer novel information that may provide insights for the planning of clinical trials in humans, likely for maintenance therapy of NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3463922  PMID: 23050046
notch signaling; insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor signaling; tumor hypoxia

Results 1-2 (2)