Sorafenib (BAY 43-9006, Nexavar), a dual-action inhibitor that targets RAF/MEK/ERK pathway in tumor cells and tyrosine kinases VEGFR/PDGFR in tumor vasculature

Methods Enzymol. 2006;407:597-612. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(05)07047-3.


Activating mutations in Ras and B-RAF were identified in several human cancers. In addition, several receptor tyrosine kinases, acting upstream of Ras, were found either mutated or overexpressed in human tumors. Because oncogenic activation of the Ras/RAF pathway may lead to a sustained proliferative signal resulting in tumor growth and progression, inhibition of this pathway represents an attractive approach for cancer drug discovery. A novel class of biaryl urea that inhibits C-RAF kinase was discovered using a combination of medicinal and combinatorial chemistry approaches. This effort culminated in the identification of the clinical candidate BAY 43-9006 (Sorafenib, Nexavar), which has recently been approved by the FDA for advanced renal cell carcinoma in phase III clinical trials. Sorafenib inhibited the kinase activity of both C-RAF and B-RAF (wild type and V600E mutant). It inhibited MEK and ERK phosphorylation in various cancer cell lines and tumor xenografts and exhibited potent oral antitumor activity in a broad spectrum of human tumor xenograft models. Further characterization of sorafenib revealed that this molecule was a multikinase inhibitor that targeted the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor family (VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3) and platelet-derived growth factor receptor family (PDGFR-beta and Kit), which play key roles in tumor progression and angiogenesis. Thus, sorafenib may inhibit tumor growth by a dual mechanism, acting either directly on the tumor (through inhibition of Raf and Kit signaling) and/or on tumor angiogenesis (through inhibition of VEGFR and PDGFR signaling). In phase I and phase II clinical trials, sorafenib showed limited side effects and, more importantly, disease stabilization. This agent is currently being evaluated in phase III clinical trials in renal cell and hepatocellular carcinomas.

MeSH terms

  • Benzenesulfonates / pharmacology*
  • Benzenesulfonates / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Pyridines / pharmacology*
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use
  • Sorafenib


  • Benzenesulfonates
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines
  • Niacinamide
  • Sorafenib
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases