Targeted therapies for non-small-cell lung cancer: biology, rationale, and preclinical results from a radiation oncology perspective

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2004;59(2 Suppl):27-38. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2004.01.054.


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in the majority of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). This presents an opportune target for new treatment strategies designed to selectively interfere with the cancer cell growth cycle. Recent investigations into the biology of the EGFR and its downstream signaling pathways have reminded us of the complexity of cancer cell communications from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Multiple pathways are activated with stimulation of the autocrine and paracrine EGFR loop, from the ras-raf-MEK activation of ERK 1/2 to the P13K-Akt pathway, each playing an important role in cancer cell survival, invasion, and angiogenesis. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that molecules targeting the EGFR, either through extracellular blockade or intracellular interference with the EGFR-associated tyrosine kinase, reversibly or irreversibly, inhibit cancer cell growth. Potent antitumor effects have been observed in human tumor xenograft models. Preclinical studies have also demonstrated cooperative effects when anti-EGFR agents are combined with radiation or chemotherapy. Many of these agents have now entered into advanced human clinical trials with modest dose-related toxicity despite chronic administration. Encouraging response rates with single-agent targeted therapy have been reported in heavily pretreated patients with advanced NSCLC. In addition, agents targeting the angiogenic pathway, which plays a key role in the regulation of angiogenesis, may play an important role in enhancing the efficacy of anti-EGFR agents. This article will focus on the biology, rationale, and preclinical studies with targeted anti-EGFR and antiangiogenic therapies for the management of NSCLC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / radiotherapy*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor / metabolism


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor