Manuel Hidalgo, MD

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Erlotinib: Preclinical Investigations

November 2nd 2003

Erlotinib (Tarceva) is an orally available selective small-moleculeinhibitor of HER1/EGFR tyrosine kinase with a 50% inhibitory concentrationof 2 nM for purified tyrosine kinase. This agent has beenshown to produce stasis or regression of tumor growth in human cancerxenograft models, including non-small-cell lung cancer models.Ongoing preclinical investigations indicate that inhibition of the MAPKand Atk signaling pathways downstream of HER1/EGFR may be requiredfor optimal antitumor effects. Erlotinib exhibits inhibition ofMAPK and Atk kinases at concentrations higher than those requiredfor HER1/EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibition; such findings suggest thatmaximal inhibition of HER1/EGFR, requiring high erlotinib doses, isnecessary for optimum antitumor activity. These considerations aresupported by tumor models, including non-small-cell lung cancermodels, showing dose-related antitumor effects up to high doses oferlotinib. Erlotinib exhibits additive antitumor effects when combinedwith chemotherapeutic agents (cisplatin, doxorubicin, paclitaxel,gemcitabine [Gemzar], and capecitabine [Xeloda]), radiation therapy,and other targeted agents (eg, bevacizumab [Avastin]). Recent studiesindicate that erlotinib inhibits the EGFRvIII mutant at concentrationshigher than those required for inhibition of wild-type receptor. Ongoinginvestigation will help to determine optimal dosing and dose frequencyof erlotinib in various cancers in the clinical setting.

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