Emerging role of insulin-like growth factor receptor inhibitors in oncology: early clinical trial results and future directions

Oncogene. 2009 Aug 27;28(34):3009-21. doi: 10.1038/onc.2009.172. Epub 2009 Jul 6.


Preclinical evidence that targeting the insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-IR) is effective in cancer treatment has been accumulating for almost two decades. Efforts to develop drugs began in the late 1990s, and initial data from clinical trials were reported in 2006. The biological rationale for IGF-IR targeting has potential relevance to many tumor types, and early results have justified expanded programs to evaluate IGF-IR-targeting agents in many areas of clinical need. More than two dozen drug candidates have been developed and clinical trials are underway for at least 12 of these. Early clinical trials reveal an acceptable safety profile together with pharmacodynamic evidence that the receptor can be successfully targeted. It is premature to draw conclusions regarding efficacy, but well-documented instances of single-agent activity were noted during phase I evaluations, and recent evidence from a phase II study suggests that co-administration of an anti-IGF-IR antibody with chemotherapy for non-small-cell lung cancer improves objective response rate and progression-free survival. With more than 70 trials involving a variety of drug candidates underway, the IGF-IR is becoming one of the most intensively investigated molecular targets in oncology. Early results justify the continuation of ongoing research across a broad range of cancer indications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • figitumumab