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Targeted Therapies for Cancer 2004

Jeffrey S. Ross MD, David P. Schenkein MD, Robert Pietrusko PharmD, Mark Rolfe PhD, Gerald P. Linette MD, PhD, James Stec, Nancy E. Stagliano PhD, Geoffrey S. Ginsburg MD, PhD, W. Fraser Symmans MD, Lajos Pusztai MD, PhD, Gabriel N. Hortobagyi MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/5CWPU41AFR1VYM3F 598-609 First published online: 1 October 2004


The regulatory agency approvals in the United States and Europe of imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) for patients with bcr/abl-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia, cetuximab (Erbitux) for patients with epidermal growth factor receptor overexpressing metastatic colorectal cancer, the antiangiogenesis agent bevacizumab (Avastin), and the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (Velcade)—and the considerable public interest in new anticancer drugs that take advantage of specific genetic defects that render the malignant cells more likely to respond to specific treatment—are driving a new era of integrated diagnostics and therapeutics. The recent discovery of a drug response predicting activating mutation in the epidermal growth factor receptor gene for patients with non–small cell lung cancer treated with gefitinib (Iressa) has intensified this interest. In this review, the history of targeted anticancer therapies is highlighted, with focus on the development of molecular diagnostics for hematologic malignancies and the emergence of trastuzumab (Herceptin), an antibody-based targeted therapy for HER-2/neu overexpressing metastatic breast cancer. The potential of pharmacogenomic strategies and the use of high-density genomic microarrays to classify and select therapy for cancer are briefly considered. This review also considers the widely held view that, in the next 5 to 10 years, the clinical application of molecular diagnostics will further revolutionize the drug discovery and development process; customize the selection, dosing, route of administration of existing and new therapeutic agents; and truly personalize medical care for cancer patients.

Key Words:
  • Cancer
  • Targeted therapy
  • Personalized medicine
  • Molecular diagnostics
  • Review