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State of the art and upcoming trends in claudin-directed therapies in gastrointestinal malignancies.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Claudins, components of tight cell junctions in epithelial and endothelial cells, have emerged as a therapeutic target in gastrointestinal (GI) malignancies, particularly claudin 18.2 (CLDN18.2).

RECENT FINDINGS: Zolbetuximab, a chimeric anti-CLDN18.2 monoclonal antibody (mAb), is currently under FDA review and may emerge as the first claudin targeted therapy approved. Phase 3 trials show that zolbetuximab in combination with front-line fluoropyrimidine plus oxaliplatin improves survival in advanced CLDN18.2 positive (≥75% of tumor cells) gastric adenocarcinoma (GAC) patients. Many other therapies (mAbs; CART; bispecific; ADCs) are under investigation.

SUMMARY: CLDN18.2 will be an important target in GAC. Early understanding of how to target CLDN18.2 based on the level of expression (high, moderate, low) will be the key to success in this area. Studying these as separate entities should be considered. Resistance patterns, loss of CLDN18.2 expression, role in the refractory setting, and if any role in localized disease are questions that remain. Other targets for claudin that target claudin six and four are under investigation. Their role in GI malignancies will soon be further clarified.

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