Early development of sunitinib in hepatocellular carcinoma

Andrew X Zhu, Eric Raymond
Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy 2009, 9 (1): 143-50
Sunitinib malate is an oral, multitargeted receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor of VEGF receptors 1, 2 and 3; PDGF receptors alpha and beta, and other receptor tyrosine kinases implicated in tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly vascular tumor that overexpresses several angiogenic factors; VEGF and PDGF signaling pathways play a key role in HCC. Until recently, treatment options for advanced HCC were limited and conventional therapies have met with poor response rates. Sorafenib provided proof-of-concept for molecularly targeted therapy in advanced HCC and has recently been approved for treatment. However, not all patients can tolerate sorafenib and patients may experience tumor progression; therefore, additional treatment options are warranted. Sunitinib has shown early evidence of anti-tumor activity in Phase II trials in US, European and Asian patients with locally advanced, unresectable and metastatic HCC. A Phase III trial of sunitinib in HCC is ongoing.

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