Novel approaches with targeted therapies in bladder cancer. Therapy of bladder cancer by blockade of the epidermal growth factor receptor family

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2003 Jun 27;46 Suppl:S85-104. doi: 10.1016/s1040-8428(03)00067-2.


The improved understanding of the molecular biology of urothelial malignancies is helping to define the role of new targets and prognostic indices that can direct the most appropriate choice of treatment for advanced disease. Many human tumors express high levels of growth factors and their receptors that can be used as potential therapeutical targets. Tyrosine-kinase receptors, including many growth factor receptors such the receptors for epidermal growth factor (EGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and Her2/neu, have been found overexpressed in urothelial tumors. For many of these growth factor receptors, the degree of expression has been associated with the progression of cancer and a poor prognosis. Among the best studied growth factor receptors are the two members of EGF receptor familiy EGFr (ErbB-1), and Her2/neu (ErbB-2). Several preclinical studies in bladder cancer models, have confirmed that systemic administration of growth factor inhibitors inhibits the growth and metastasis of human transitional cell carcinoma established in the bladder wall of athymic nude mice. Additional studies indicate that therapy with EGFR inhibitors enhances the activity of conventional cytoreductive chemotherapeutic agents, in part by inhibiting tumor cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and inducing apoptosis. Novel targeted therapy hold promise to improve the current results of bladder cancer treatment. Based on the success seen with anti-HER2 monoclonal antibodies (Herceptin) and the promising results with EGFR targeted agents (IMC-C225 Cetuximab, ZD1389 Iressa, OSI-774 Tarceva, GW 57016) in other tumor types, and based on the results obtained in preclinical models, there is a great interest in assessing these agents in patients with bladder cancer. Several trials are now ongoing testing these new agents alone or in combination with chemotherapy in bladder cancer patients. The integration of these newer biologic agents, probably to supplement rather than to supplant chemotherapeutic drugs, should be a primary direction of research with the objective to interfere with multiple aspects of bladder cancer progression. However, the value of integration of biologically targeted agents into combined modality treatment for patients with bladder cancer has still to be proven.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / physiopathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • ErbB Receptors / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / drug effects
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / drug effects*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / physiopathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, ErbB-2