Background: The combination of the reversible epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) erlotinib with gemcitabine obtained FDA approval for treating patients with pancreatic cancer. However, duration of response is often limited and there is currently no reliable predictive marker.
Methods: We determined the sensitivity of a panel of human pancreatic tumour cell lines to treatment with afatinib, erlotinib, monoclonal antibody (mAb) ICR62, and gemcitabine, using the Sulforhodamine B colorimetric assay. The effect of these agents on cell signalling and cell-cycle distribution was determined by western blot and flow cytometry, respectively.
Results: At 200 nM, ICR62 had no effect on growth of these tumour cells with the exception of BxPC-3 cells. BxPC-3 cells were also sensitive to treatment with afatinib and erlotinib with respective IC(50) values of 11 and 1200 nM. Compared with erlotinib, afatinib was also more effective in inhibiting the growth of the other human pancreatic tumour cell lines and in blocking the EGF-induced phosphorylation of tyrosine, EGFR, MAPK, and AKT. When tested in BxPC-3 xenografts, afatinib induced significant delay in tumour growth.
Conclusion: The superiority of afatinib in this study encourages further investigation on the therapeutic potential of afatinib as a single agent or in combination with gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer.
2011 Cancer Research UK