Resistance to combination BRAF and MEK inhibition in metastatic melanoma: Where to next?

Sarah J. Welsh, Helen Rizos, Richard A. Scolyer, Georgina V. Long*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)


Treatment of BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway targeted therapies (BRAF/MEK inhibitors) and immune checkpoint inhibitors has revolutionised management and improved outcomes for patients with advanced stage disease. However, acquired resistance to MAPK inhibitor therapy develops in the majority of patients at approximately 12 months and multiple mechanisms lead to resistance. Understanding the mechanisms of resistance is therefore critical for the development of more effective therapeutic strategies in BRAF-mutant melanoma. Recently, several distinct mechanisms of resistance to BRAF-inhibition have been proposed based on data obtained in experimental melanoma cell models and small series of human tumour samples. These include reactivation of the MAPK pathway resulting in continued extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation and activation of parallel signalling pathways including the PI3K-mTOR (phosphoinositide 3-kinase-mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway. Alterations in how the cells of the immune system respond to melanoma cells treated with targeted therapy may also influence response and progression. In this review, we discuss these mechanisms and identify potential therapeutic strategies to overcome resistance which, in turn, will lead to improved outcomes for patients with metastatic melanoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


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