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Ann Oncol. 2012 Aug;23(8):2153-61. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdr574. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Phase II study of figitumumab in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: clinical activity and molecular response (GORTEC 2008-02).

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  • 1Cancer Center, Department of Medical Oncology, University Hospital St-Luc, Catholic University Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.



Preclinical studies suggest that insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) blockage could be a promising therapeutic target in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Therefore, we investigated the efficacy and toxicity of figitumumab, an anti-IGF-1R monoclonal antibody, in palliative SCCHN.


Patients with palliative SCCHN progressing after platinum-based therapy were treated with figitumumab i.v. 20 mg/kg, every 3 weeks. The primary end point was the disease control rate at 6-8 weeks after treatment initiation. Tumor biopsies and plasma samples were collected before and after figitumumab administration to monitor the molecular response.


Seventeen patients were included. Only two patients achieved stable disease at 6-8 weeks. Median overall survival and progression-free survival were 63 and 52 days, respectively. The main grade 3-4 adverse event was hyperglycemia (41%). Translational research showed that figitumumab downregulated IGF-1R at the surface of tumor cells with activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway, as shown by the upregulation of p-EGFR in tumor cells (P=0.016), and an increase in the plasma level of tumor growth factor-alpha (P=0.006).


Figitumumab monotherapy has no clinically significant activity in unselected palliative SCCHN.

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