The concept of epithelial–mesenchymal plasticity (EMP), which describes the dynamic flux within the spectrum of phenotypic states that invasive carcinoma cells may reside, is being increasingly recognised for its role in cancer progression and therapy resistance. The myriad of events that are able to induce EMP, as well as the more recently characterised control loops, results in dynamic transitions of cancerous epithelial cells to more mesenchymal-like phenotypes through an epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), as well as the reverse transition from mesenchymal phenotypes to an epithelial one. The significance of EMP, in its ability to drive local invasion, generate cancer stem cells and facilitate metastasis by the dissemination of circulating tumour cells (CTCs), highlights its importance as a targetable programme to combat cancer morbidity and mortality. The focus of this review is to consolidate the existing knowledge on the strategies currently in development to combat cancer progression via inhibition of specific facets of EMP. The prevalence of relapse due to therapy resistance and metastatic propensity that EMP endows should be considered when designing therapy regimes, and such therapies should synergise with existing chemotherapeutics to benefit efficacy. To further improve upon EMP-targeted therapies, it is imperative to devise monitoring strategies to assess the impact of such treatments on EMP-related phenomenon such as CTC burden, chemosensitivity/-resistance and micrometastasis in patients.

You do not currently have access to this content.