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Acquired resistance to lapatinib, an inhibitor of EGFR and HER2 kinases, is common. We found that reactivation of EGFR, HER2 and HER3 occurred within 24 hours of lapatinib treatment after their initial dephosphorylation. This was associated with increased expression of NRG1 in cells treated with lapatinib. Exogenous NRG1 partially rescued breast cancer cells from growth inhibition by lapatinib. In addition, both parental and lapatinib-resistant breast cancer cells were sensitive to SGP1, which inhibits binding of NRG1 and other HER3 ligands. Addition of pertuzumab to lapatinib further inhibited NRG1-induced signalling, which was not fully inhibited by either drug alone. In animal model, a combination of pertuzumab to lapatinib induced a greater tumor regression than either lapatinib or pertuzumab monotherapy. This novel combination treatment may provide a promising strategy in clinical HER2-targeted therapy and may inhibit a subset of lapatinib-resistant breast cancer, although the group of patients that will respond to this therapy requires further stratification.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





5678 - 5694


HER2, NRG1, lapatinib, pertuzumab, resistance, Animals, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Breast Neoplasms, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Proliferation, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm, Drug Synergism, Female, Humans, Lapatinib, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mice, Nude, Neuregulin-1, Quinazolines, Random Allocation, Receptor, ErbB-2, Signal Transduction, Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays