Research Papers:

Therapeutic siRNA for drug-resistant HER2-positive breast cancer

Shenda Gu, Zhi Hu, Worapol Ngamcherdtrakul, David J. Castro, Jingga Morry, Moataz M. Reda, Joe W. Gray _ and Wassana Yantasee

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:14727-14741. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7409

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Shenda Gu1,*, Zhi Hu1,*, Worapol Ngamcherdtrakul1,2, David J. Castro1,2, Jingga Morry1, Moataz M. Reda1, Joe W. Gray1, Wassana Yantasee1,2

1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, 97239, USA

2PDX Pharmaceuticals, LLC, Portland, Oregon, 97239, USA

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Joe W. Gray, e-mail: [email protected]

Wassana Yantasee, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: siRNA, HER2, trastuzumab resistance, breast cancer, nanoparticles

Received: December 17, 2015    Accepted: January 30, 2016    Published: February 15, 2016


HER2 is overexpressed in about 20% of breast cancers and contributes to poor prognosis. Unfortunately, a large fraction of patients have primary or acquired resistance to the HER2-targeted therapy trastuzumab, thus a multi-drug combination is utilized in the clinic, putting significant burden on patients. We systematically identified an optimal HER2 siRNA from 76 potential sequences and demonstrated its utility in overcoming intrinsic and acquired resistance to trastuzumab and lapatinib in 18 HER2-positive cancer cell lines. We provided evidence that the drug-resistant cancer maintains dependence on HER2 for survival. Importantly, cell lines did not readily develop resistance following extended treatment with HER2 siRNA. Using our recently developed nanoparticle platform, systemic delivery of HER2 siRNA to trastuzumab-resistant tumors resulted in significant growth inhibition. Moreover, the optimal HER2 siRNA could also silence an exon 16 skipped HER2 splice variant reported to be highly oncogenic and linked to trastuzumab resistance.

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