Signal transduction inhibitors in treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes

Lohith Bachegowda, Oleg Gligich, Ionnis Mantzaris, Carolina Schinke, Dale Wyville, Tatiana Carrillo, Ira Braunschweig, Ulrich Steidl, Amit Verma

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of hematologic disorders characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis that results in reduced blood counts. Although MDS can transform into leukemia, most of the morbidity experienced by these patients is due to chronically low blood counts. Conventional cytotoxic agents used to treat MDS have yielded some encouraging results but are characterized by many adverse effects in the predominantly elderly patient population. Targeted interventions aimed at reversing the bone marrow failure and increasing the peripheral blood counts would be advantageous in this cohort of patients. Studies have demonstrated over-activated signaling of myelo-suppressive cytokines such as TGF-β, TNF-α and Interferons in MDS hematopoietic stem cells. Targeting these signaling cascades could be potentially therapeutic in MDS. The p38 MAP kinase pathway, which is constitutively activated in MDS, is an example of cytokine stimulated kinase that promotes aberrant apoptosis of stem and progenitor cells in MDS. ARRY-614 and SCIO-469 are p38 MAPK inhibitors that have been used in clinical trials and have shown activity in a subset of MDS patients. TGF-β signaling has been therapeutically targeted by small molecule inhibitor of the TGF-β receptor kinase, LY-2157299, with encouraging preclinical results. Apart from TGF-β receptor kinase inhibition, members of TGF-β super family and BMP ligands have also been targeted by ligand trap compounds like Sotatercept (ACE-011) and ACE-536. The multikinase inhibitor, ON-01910.Na (Rigosertib) has demonstrated early signs of efficacy in reducing the percentage of leukemic blasts and is in advanced stages of clinical testing. Temsirolimus, Deforolimus and other mTOR inhibitors are being tested in clinical trials and have shown preclinical efficacy in CMML. EGF receptor inhibitors, Erlotinib and Gefitinib have shown efficacy in small trials that may be related to off target effects. Cell cycle regulator inhibitors such as Farnesyl transferase inhibitors (Tipifarnib, Lonafarnib) and MEK inhibitor (GSK1120212) have shown acceptable toxicity profiles in small studies and efforts are underway to select mutational subgroups of MDS and AML that may benefit from these inhibitors. Altogether, these studies show that targeting various signal transduction pathways that regulate hematopoiesis offers promising therapeutic potential in this disease. Future studies in combination with high resolution correlative studies will clarify the subgroup specific efficacies of these agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number50
JournalJournal of Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • ALK
  • Cytokines
  • EGFR
  • FTI
  • GSTP 1-1
  • Mek
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • ON- 01910.Na
  • Signal transduction inhibitors
  • TGF-β
  • mTOR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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