HSP-90 inhibitor ganetespib is synergistic with doxorubicin in small cell lung cancer

C. H. Lai, K. S. Park, D. H. Lee, A. T. Alberobello, M. Raffeld, M. Pierobon, E. Pin, E. F. Petricoin, Y. Wang*, G. Giaccone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) at advanced stage is considered an incurable disease. Despite good response to initial chemotherapy, the responses in SCLC patients with metastatic disease are of short duration and resistance inevitably occurs. Although several target-specific drugs have altered the paradigm of treatment for many other cancers, we have yet to witness a revolution of the same magnitude in SCLC treatment. Anthracyclines, such as doxorubicin, have definite activity in this disease, and ganetespib has shown promising activity in preclinical models but underwhelming activity as a single agent in SCLC patients. Using SCLC cell lines, we demonstrated that ganetespib (IC50:31nM) was much more potent than 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG), a geldanamycin derivative (IC50:16 mM). Ganetespib inhibited SCLC cell growth via induction of persistent G2/M arrest and Caspase 3-dependent cell death. MTS assay revealed that ganetespib synergized with both doxorubicin and etoposide, two topoisomerase II inhibitors commonly used in SCLC chemotherapy. Expression of receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 1(RIP1), a protein that may function as a pro-survival scaffold protein or a pro-death kinase in TNFR1-activated cells, was induced by doxorubicin and downregulated by ganetespib. Depletion of RIP1 by either RIP1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) or ganetespib sensitized doxorubicin-induced cell death, suggesting that RIP1 may promote survival in doxorubicin-treated cells and that ganetespib may synergize with doxorubicin in part through the downregulation of RIP1. In comparison to ganetespib or doxorubicin alone, the ganetespib +doxorubicin combination caused significantly more growth regression and death of human SCLC xenografts in immunocompromised mice. We conclude that ganetespib and doxorubicin combination exhibits significant synergy and is efficacious in inhibiting SCLC growth in vitro and in mouse xenograft models. Our preclinical study suggests that ganetespib and doxorubicin combination therapy may be an effective strategy for SCLC treatment, which warrants clinical testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4867-4876
Number of pages10
Issue number40
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Doxorubicin
  • Ganetespib
  • Hsp90 inhibitor
  • RIP1
  • SCLC


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