Somatic evolution of head and neck cancer - Biological robustness and latent vulnerability

Muneyuki Masuda, Satoshi Toh, Takahiro Wakasaki, Masumi Suzui, Andrew K. Joe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Despite recent advancements in multidisciplinary treatments, the overall survival and quality of life of patients with advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) have not improved significantly over the past decade. Molecular targeted therapies, which have been addressed and advanced by the concept of " oncogene addiction" , have demonstrated only limited successes so far. To explore a novel clue for clinically effective targeted therapies, we analyzed the molecular circuitry of HNSCC through the lens that HNSCC is an evolving system. In the trajectory of this somatic evolution, HNSCC acquires biological robustness under a variety of selective pressures including genetic, epigenetic, micro-environmental and metabolic stressors, which well explains the major mechanism of " escaping from oncogene addiction" . On the other hand, this systemic view appears to instruct us approaches to target latent vulnerability of HNSCC that is masked behind the plasticity and evolvability of this complex adaptive system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-28
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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