Synergistic antitumor effects of combined epidermal growth factor receptor and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 targeted therapy

James R Tonra, Dhanvanthri S Deevi, Erik Corcoran, Huiling Li, Su Wang, Francine E Carrick, Daniel J Hicklin
Clinical Cancer Research 2006 April 1, 12 (7 Pt 1): 2197-207

PURPOSE: Combination therapies that target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) pathways, are being actively tested for the treatment of cancer. In evaluating combination strategies, the ideal combination would be one in which the treatments interact in a way that is synergistic with regard to antitumor effects. Here, we have evaluated the interaction between anti-EGFR antibody Erbitux (cetuximab) and anti-VEGFR2 antibody, DC101, in preclinical models of pancreatic (BxPC-3) and colon (GEO) cancer.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Analysis of the interaction between cetuximab and DC101 in vivo used a novel method for establishing the upper 95% confidence limits for the combination index (CI) of isobologram analyses, where CI < 1 indicates synergy. Assessment of tumor cell proliferation, apoptosis, VEGF production, and hypoxia, as well as tumor vascularization, was performed to gain insights into the mechanistic basis for synergy between agents targeting different tumor compartments.

RESULTS: Monotherapy ED(50) values for tumor growth inhibition ranged from 1.8 to 2.3 mg/kg and 10.5 to 16.6 mg/kg for cetuximab and DC101, respectively. From the dose response of the combination treatment, it was determined that cetuximab and DC101 are synergistic in the BxPC-3 (CI = 0.1, P < 0.01) and GEO (CI = 0.1, P < 0.01) models. Overlapping effects on the tumor cell and vascular compartments form a basis for the interaction, with VEGF production and hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha potentially acting as molecular links between EGFR and VEGFR2 inhibition.

CONCLUSIONS: Results show antitumor synergy for combined EGFR and VEGFR2 targeted therapy, supporting the significant therapeutic potential of this combination strategy.

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