Purpose: Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is characterized by loss of von Hippel Lindau tumor suppressor gene activity, resulting in high expression of pro-angiogenic growth factors: vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). SU11248 (sunitinib malate), a small molecule inhibitor with high binding affinity for VEGF and PDGF receptors, was tested for clinical activity in patients with metastatic RCC.
Patients and methods: Patients with metastatic RCC and progression on first-line cytokine therapy were enrolled onto a multicenter phase II trial. SU11248 monotherapy was administered in repeated 6-week cycles of daily oral therapy for 4 weeks, followed by 2 weeks off. Overall response rate was the primary end point, and time to progression and safety were secondary end points. Results Twenty-five (40%) of 63 patients treated with SU11248 achieved partial responses; 17 additional patients (27%) demonstrated stable disease lasting > or = 3 months. Median time to progression in the 63 patients was 8.7 months. Dosing was generally tolerated with manageable toxicities.
Conclusion: SU11248, a multitargeted receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor of VEGF and PDGF receptors, demonstrates antitumor activity in metastatic RCC as second-line therapy, a setting where no effective systemic therapy is presently recognized. The genetics of RCC and these promising clinical results support the hypothesis that VEGF and PDGF receptor-mediated signaling is an effective therapeutic target in RCC.