Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is an aggressive malignancy compared to other urological malignancies and has been associated with poor responses to conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy. Interferon-α and interleukin-2 were previously utilized in a limited number of patients with good performance status due to toxicity and safety issues. Over the last decade, through advances in the understanding of the biology and pathology of RCC, the important role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in RCC has been identified. Data from randomized trials have led to the approval of first-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) sorafenib, sunitinib, and pazopanib; however, these agents inhibit a wide variety of kinase targets and are associated with a range of adverse effects. More recently, a new generation TKI, axitinib, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Tivozanib is a novel TKI, which is a potent inhibitor of VEGF-1, VEGF-2, VEGF-3, c-kit, and PDGR kinases, with a more restricted target spectrum. Phase II and III studies have demonstrated significant activity and a favorable safety profile as an initial targeted treatment for advanced RCC. This review examines the emerging data with tivozanib for the treatment of advanced RCC. Preclinical investigations as well as Phase I, II, and III data are examined; data on the comparative benefits of tivozanib are reviewed. Finally, we discuss the future potential of tivozanib in combination, biomarkers associated with tivozanib response, and acquisition of resistance and nonkidney cancer indications.
Keywords: renal cell cancer; targeted therapy; tivozanib; tyrosine kinase inhibitor.