Angiogenesis is a hallmark of melanoma progression. Antiangiogenic agents have been infrequently tested in patients with advanced melanoma. Experience with most other cancers suggests that single-agent application of angiogenic inhibitors is unlikely to have substantial clinical antitumor activity in melanoma. It is more likely that combinations of antiangiogenic agents with either chemotherapy or other targeted therapy will be needed to produce significant clinical benefit. In melanoma, numerous cellular pathways important to cell proliferation, apoptosis, or metastases have recently been shown to be activated. Activation occurs through specific mutations (B-RAF, N-RAS, and PTEN) or changes in expression levels of various proteins (PTEN, BCL-2, NF-κB, CDK2, and cyclin D1). Agents that block these pathways are rapidly entering the clinical setting, including RAF inhibitors (sorafenib), mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitors (PD0325901), mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors (CCI-779), and farnesyl transferase inhibitors (R115777) that inhibit N-RAS and proteasome inhibitors (PS-341) that block activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). It will be a challenge to evaluate these agents alone, in combination with each other, or with chemotherapy in patients with melanoma. Trials with large populations of biologically ill-defined tumors run the risk of missing clinical antitumor activity that is important for a particular yet-to-be-defined subset of patients. To rationally and optimally develop these targeted agents, it will be critical to adequately test for the presence of the presumed cellular target in tumor specimens and the effect of therapy on the proposed target (biological response). Investigators in this field will need to carefully plan these trials so that at the end of the day, we learn from both the failures and successes of targeted therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research