Erlotinib augmentation with dapsone for rash mitigation and increased anti-cancer effectiveness

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Background: The epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib has failed in many ways to be as potent in the anti-cancer role as pre-clinical studies would have suggested. This paper traces some aspects of this failure to a compensatory erlotinib-mediated increase in interleukin-8. Many other-but not all- cancer chemotherapeutic cytotoxic drugs also provoke a compensatory increase in a malignant clone’s interleukin-8 synthesis. Untreated glioblastoma and other cancer cells themselves natively synthesize interleukin-8. Interleukin-8 has tumor growth promoting, mobility and metastasis formation enhancing, effects as well as pro-angiogenesis effects. Findings: The old sulfone antibiotic dapsone- one of the very first antibiotics in clinical use- has demonstrated several interleukin-8 system inhibiting actions. Review of these indicates dapsone has potential to augment erlotinib effectiveness. Erlotinib typically gives a rash that has recently been proven to come about via an erlotinib triggered up-regulated keratinocyte interleukin-8 synthesis. The erlotinib rash shares histological features reminiscent of typical neutrophilic dermatoses. Dapsone has an established therapeutic role in current treatment of other neutrophilic dermatoses. Conclusion: Thus, dapsone has potential to both improve the quality of life in erlotinib treated patients by amelioration of rash as well as to short-circuit a growth-enhancing aspect of erlotinib when used in the anti-cancer role.




Kast, R. E. (2015). Erlotinib augmentation with dapsone for rash mitigation and increased anti-cancer effectiveness. SpringerPlus, 4(1).

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