Targeting the insulin-like growth factor network in cancer therapy

Cancer Biol Ther. 2011 Apr 15;11(8):701-7. doi: 10.4161/cbt.11.8.14689. Epub 2011 Apr 15.


During the last decades, changes in the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling have been related to the pathogenesis of cancer. Therefore, IGFs became highly attractive therapeutic cancer targets. Several drugs including monoclonal antibodies (mAB), small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (RTKIs), anti-sense oligonucleotids (ASOs) and IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) targeting the IGF axis were developed. With over 60 ongoing clinical trials, the IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) is currently one of the most studied molecular targets in the field of oncology. In this review, we provide an overview on the IGF axis, its signaling pathways and its significance in neoplasia. We critically review the preclinical and clinical studies investigating the role of IGF1R as a cancer target and discuss preliminary results and possible limitations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense / genetics
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense / metabolism
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1