The Evolving Role of FGFR2 Inhibitors in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma: From Molecular Biology to Clinical Targeting

Cancer Manag Res. 2021 Oct 9:13:7747-7757. doi: 10.2147/CMAR.S330710. eCollection 2021.


Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA) is an anatomically and biologically distinct entity with a rising incidence and a poor prognosis on conventional treatments. Surgery followed by adjuvant chemotherapy is a potentially curative option in resectable cases, while palliative-intent chemotherapy is the standard-of-care in the advanced setting. Technological advances through massive parallel sequencing have enabled a deeper understanding of disease biology with the identification of several druggable molecular vulnerabilities in nearly 50% of cases. Among them, gene fusions involving the fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) are the most therapeutically exploited so far with a number of Phase II clinical trials investigating FGFR2 inhibitors showing unprecedented efficacy results in this molecular subgroup. Over the last year, these efforts have culminated in the US FDA-approval of pemigatinib and infigratinib, the first two oral selective FGFR2 targeted agents for previously treated, locally advanced or metastatic iCCA driven by FGFR2 fusion or rearrangements. While first-line Phase III trials are currently underway to test these targeted approach against standard-of-care chemotherapy, translational studies are trying to better understand primary and secondary resistance mechanisms in order to optimize FGFR2 blockade in iCCA. In this article, we extensively reviewed the current evidence on the biological rationale, as well as preclinical and clinical development of FGFR inhibitors in iCCA.

Keywords: FGFR2; biliary cancer; cholangiocarcinoma; intrahepatic; precision medicine; targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review