About a third of all human cancers harbor mutations in one of the K-, N-, or HRAS genes that encode an abnormal RAS protein locked in a constitutively activated state to drive malignant transformation and tumor growth. Despite more than three decades of intensive research aimed at the discovery of RAS-directed therapeutics, there are no FDA-approved drugs that are broadly effective against RAS-driven cancers. Although RAS proteins are often said to be “undruggable,” there is mounting evidence suggesting it may be feasible to develop direct inhibitors of RAS proteins. Here, we review this evidence with a focus on compounds capable of inhibiting the interaction of RAS proteins with their effectors that transduce the signals of RAS and that drive and sustain malignant transformation and tumor growth. These reports of direct-acting RAS inhibitors provide valuable insight for further discovery and development of clinical candidates for RAS-driven cancers involving mutations in RAS genes or otherwise activated RAS proteins. Cancer Res; 77(2); 221–6. ©2017 AACR.
- Received April 4, 2016.
- Revision received September 22, 2016.
- Accepted October 8, 2016.
- ©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.