Small Cell Lung Cancer: New Approach to Overcoming Chemo-Resistance

Small cell lung cancer accounts for about 15 percent of all diagnosed lung cancers and is still associated with a high mortality rate. SCLC tumours often develop resistance to chemotherapy and thus poor prognosis is due to tumour recurrence which occurs within only five to 14 months after initial diagnosis. 

As a recent research study led by Balazs Döme and Karin Schelch from MedUni Vienna shows, resistant cell lines can be successfully fought with a combination of two already available therapeutic agents. The study results were published in the medical journal Clinical Cancer Research and offer a promising approach for the development of new therapies for this particularly aggressive type of tumour.

The study follows on from earlier, highly regarded findings by the research group led by Balazs Döme and Karin Schelch (Department of Thoracic Surgery at MedUni Vienna), according to which small cell lung cancer (SCLC) can be divided into subtypes that respond differently to chemotherapeutic agents and targeted drugs. 

In this context, histone deaceylase inhibitors (HDACi) have been shown to be effective in two SCLC subtypes (known as SCLC-A and SCLC-N). HDACi are drugs that have already been shown in trials to be effective in fighting cells of different tumour types and have now been further investigated for their use in SCLC.

This particularly aggressive tumour, which usually occurs in smokers, grows rapidly and has a high tendency to metastasise. About 70 per cent of advanced cases are fatal within a year.

HDACi in combination with standard chemotherapeutic agents turned out to be a possible solution during the studies. This significantly slowed down the growth of tumour cells that were resistant to individual therapy.


Anna Solta, Kristiina Boettiger, Ildikó Kovács, Christian Lang, Zsolt Megyesfalvi, Franziska Ferk, Miroslav Mišík, Konrad Hoetzenecker, Clemens Aigner, Christian R. Kowol, Siegfried Knasmueller, Michael Grusch, Beáta Szeitz, Melinda Rezeli, Balazs Dome, Karin Schelch. Entinostat enhances the efficacy of chemotherapy in small cell lung cancer through S-phase arrest and decreased base excision repair. Clinical Cancer Research, 2023; DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-23-1795

Medical University of Vienna. (2023, September 21). Small cell lung cancer: New approach to overcoming chemo-resistance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 29, 2023 from

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