Targeting receptor tyrosine kinase signalling in small cell lung cancer (SCLC): what have we learned so far?

Cancer Treat Rev. 2007 Jun;33(4):391-406. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2007.01.006. Epub 2007 Mar 26.


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive form of lung cancer, which represents 13% of all cases and is strongly associated with cigarette smoking. The survival of SCLC patients is dismal and has not greatly improved in the last 20 years, despite advances in chemotherapy regimens and a better understanding of SCLC biology. The development of resistance to chemotherapy and metastasis are commonly recognized as important causes of poor clinical outcome in SCLC. Targeting receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signalling represents an attractive approach to develop new drugs for SCLC, in view of the accumulating data demonstrating that polypeptide growth factors play a key role in driving SCLC cell proliferation, chemoresistance and metastasis. The insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF-IR), c-Kit, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have been identified as potential drug targets in SCLC. Moreover, downstream signalling mediators of RTKs, such as phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) may also represent attractive candidate molecules for anti-cancer therapies in SCLC. Here we will review the available data concerning results with RTK inhibitors in SCLC and the clinical trials undertaken to investigate the potential of these compounds as anti-tumour agents in SCLC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / drug therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases