Insulin-like growth factor system in cancer: novel targeted therapies

Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:538019. doi: 10.1155/2015/538019. Epub 2015 Mar 19.


Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) are essential for growth and survival that suppress apoptosis and promote cell cycle progression, angiogenesis, and metastatic activities in various cancers. The IGFs actions are mediated through the IGF-1 receptor that is involved in cell transformation induced by tumour. These effects depend on the bioavailability of IGFs, which is regulated by IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs). We describe here the role of the IGF system in cancer, proposing new strategies targeting this system. We have attempted to expand the general viewpoint on IGF-1R, its inhibitors, potential limitations of IGF-1R, antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and IGFBP actions. This review discusses the emerging view that blocking IGF via IGFBP is a better option than blocking IGF receptors. This can lead to the development of novel cancer therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • Receptors, Somatomedin* / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Somatomedin* / metabolism
  • Somatomedins / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • IGF1R protein, human
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Receptors, Somatomedin
  • Somatomedins
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1