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Drug Resist Updat. 2006 Feb-Apr;9(1-2):1-18. Epub 2006 Apr 18.

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors and gemcitabine: new treatment options in pancreatic cancer?

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Department of Surgery, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich, Marchioninistrasse 15, 81377 Munich, Germany.


Pancreatic cancer (PCa) is one of the most lethal malignancies in humans. Gemcitabine is the current standard chemotherapy of advanced PCa but it is still far from optimal and novel therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. For the near future, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) hold great promise as a therapeutic strategy. Tyrosine kinases (TKs) play a pivotal role in intercellular signal transduction and regulate crucial processes of tumor cells such as proliferation, migration, survival and angiogenesis. Several TKs--such as EGFR, VEGFR, PDGFR and Src--are known to be overexpressed or constitutively activated in PCa. Hence, blocking receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and non-receptor, cytoplasmic tyrosine kinases (CTKs) represents a rational approach to treat PCa. In particular, cetuximab and erlotinib, the monoclonal antibodies against EGFR-1 (ErbB-1) showed promising activity in Phase II and Phase III trials and their combination with gemcitabine resulted in synergistic antitumor activity. In addition, small antiangiogenic molecules such as VEGFR-2 inhibitors, PDGFR inhibitors and multiple receptor targeting agents are under active investigation. Association of chemoresistance with the activity of certain tyrosine kinases (e.g. ErbB-1 and Src) has been described for pancreatic cancer and makes a strong case for combining gemcitabine with TKIs. Combinations of different TKIs might also be used to target the cancer cell micro-environment. Detailed molecular characterization of tumor cells and combinations of appropriate TKIs with cytotoxic agents such as gemcitabine are expected to lead to improved therapy of pancreatic cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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