Targeted therapy

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Targeted therapy is a type of medication that blocks the growth of cancer cells by interfering with specific targeted molecules needed for carcinogenesis and tumor growth,[1] rather than by simply interfering with rapidly dividing cells (e.g. with traditional chemotherapy). Targeted cancer therapies may be more effective than current treatments and less harmful to normal cells.

Some have challenged use of the term, stating that drugs usually associated with the term are insufficiently selective.[2] The phrase occasionally appears in scare quotes.[3] The definitive experiments that showed that targeted therapy would reverse the malignant phenotype of tumor cells involved treating Her2/neu transformed cells with monoclonal antibodies in vitro and in vivo by Mark Greene’s laboratory.[4]



The main categories of targeted therapy are small molecules and monoclonal antibodies.

Small molecules

Monoclonal antibodies

Several are in development and a few have been licenced by the FDA. Examples of licenced monoclonal antibodies include:

Progress and future

Many oncologists believe that targeted therapies are the chemotherapy of the future. As solid tumor cancer continues to be viewed as a chronic condition, methods for long-term treatment, with less side-effects, continue to be investigated.

In the U.S., the National Cancer Institute's Molecular Targets Development Program (MTDP) to identify and evaluate molecular targets that may be candidates for drug development.

The next stage of targeted therapies will focus on finding which patients will respond to which targeted therapies. This is called the identification of "sub-populations". The route to identify these sub-populations is through biomarkers and surrogate endpoints.

Another promising chemical is salinomycin, which has demonstrated potency in killing cancer stem cells in both laboratory-created and naturally occurring breast tumors in mice.[9][10]

See also


  1. "Definition of targeted therapy - NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms". Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  2. Zhukov NV, Tjulandin SA (May 2008). "Targeted therapy in the treatment of solid tumors: practice contradicts theory". Biochemistry Mosc. 73 (5): 605–18. PMID 18605984. 
  3. Markman M (2008). "The promise and perils of 'targeted therapy' of advanced ovarian cancer". Oncology 74 (1-2): 1–6. doi:10.1159/000138349. PMID 18536523. 
  4. Perantoni AO, Rice JM, Reed CD, Watatani M, Wenk ML (September 1987). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Activated neu oncogene sequences in primary tumors of the peripheral nervous system induced in rats by transplacental exposure to ethylnitrosourea"]. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 84 (17): 6317–21. PMID 3476947. 
    Drebin JA, Link VC, Weinberg RA, Greene MI (December 1986). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Inhibition of tumor growth by a monoclonal antibody reactive with an oncogene-encoded tumor antigen"]. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 83 (23): 9129–33. PMID 3466178. 
    Drebin JA, Link VC, Stern DF, Weinberg RA, Greene MI (July 1985). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Down-modulation of an oncogene protein product and reversion of the transformed phenotype by monoclonal antibodies"]. Cell 41 (3): 697–706. PMID 2860972. 
  5. Katzel JA, Fanucchi MP, Li Z (January 2009). "Recent advances of novel targeted therapy in non-small cell lung cancer". J Hematol Oncol 2 (1): 2. doi:10.1186/1756-8722-2-2. PMID 19159467. PMC 2637898. 
  6. Warr MR, Shore GC (December 2008). "Small-molecule Bcl-2 antagonists as targeted therapy in oncology". Curr Oncol 15 (6): 256–61. PMID 19079626. PMC 2601021.;. 
  7. Jordan VC (January 2008). "Tamoxifen: catalyst for the change to targeted therapy". Eur. J. Cancer 44 (1): 30–8. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2007.11.002. PMID 18068350. PMC 2566958. 
  8. Pollack, Andrew (2009-03-31). "F.D.A. Panel Supports Avastin to Treat Brain Tumor". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  9. "New method takes aim at aggressive cancer cells". Broad Communications (Broad Institute). 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  10. Gupta, P. et al.; Onder, TT; Jiang, G; Tao, K; Kuperwasser, C; Weinberg, RA; Lander, ES (2009-08-13). "Identification of selective inhibitors of cancer stem cells by high-throughput screening.". Cell 138 (4): 645–59. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2009.06.034. PMID 19682730. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 

External links

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