Lecona E, Fernandez-Capetillo O
Nat. Rev. Cancer 18 (9) 586-595 [2018-09-00; online 2018-06-15]
The chemical treatment of cancer started with the realization that DNA damaging agents such as mustard gas present notable antitumoural properties. Consequently, early drug development focused on genotoxic chemicals, some of which are still widely used in the clinic. However, the efficacy of such therapies is often limited by the side effects of these drugs on healthy cells. A refinement to this approach is to use compounds that can exploit the presence of DNA damage in cancer cells. Given that replication stress (RS) is a major source of genomic instability in cancer, targeting the RS-response kinase ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related protein (ATR) has emerged as a promising alternative. With ATR inhibitors now entering clinical trials, we here revisit the biology behind this strategy and discuss potential biomarkers that could be used for a better selection of patients who respond to therapy.