Research Perspectives:

HER3- A key survival pathway and an emerging therapeutic target in metastatic colorectal cancer and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Omkar Desai and Rui Wang _

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Oncotarget. 2023; 14:439-443. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.28421

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Omkar Desai1,2 and Rui Wang1,2,3

1 Department of Surgery, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

2 Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

3 Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

Correspondence to:

Rui Wang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: HER3; colorectal; pancreatic cancer; metastasis; microenvironment

Received: March 15, 2023     Accepted: April 24, 2023     Published: May 10, 2023

Copyright: © 2023 Desai and Wang. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are highly metastatic cancers with poor survival rates. The tumor microenvironment has been shown to play a critical role in cancer progression and response to therapies. Endothelial cells (ECs) are a key component of the tumor microenvironment and promote cancer cell survival by secreting soluble factors that activate cancer-promoting signaling pathways. Studies from us and others identified HER3 as a key mediator of liver EC-induced chemoresistance and cancer cell growth in metastatic CRC and PDAC. In this article, we discuss that HER3-targeted therapies may be effective in treating patients with HER3-expressing CRC and PDAC, and highlight the importance of applying HER3 expression as a predictive biomarker for patient response to HER3-targeted therapies. We also discuss the challenges encountered in past clinical trials of HER3-targeted therapies, including the role of NRG1 gene fusions, alternative HER3 activation mechanisms, and adaptive resistance mechanisms. Finally, we conclude by suggesting the future directions of HER3-targeted therapies, including novel approaches to overcome chemoresistance and promote cancer cell death.

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