Opportunities and obstacles to combination targeted therapy in renal cell cancer

Jeffrey A. Sosman*, Igor Puzanov, Michael B. Atkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


The treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) has undergone a major change with the development of potent angiogenesis inhibitors and targeted agents. Several multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors, sorafenib and sunitinib, have already been approved for the treatment of advanced RCC. Temsirolimus (CCI-779), a mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor, has shown a survival advantage over IFN in advanced, poor-prognosis RCC patients. Bevacizumab, an antibody targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A, has also shown promising clinical activity. Benefits attributable to these agents have been recognized by high objective response rates (sunitinib), significant increases in progression-free survival (sunitinib, sorafenib and bevacizumab), or improved overall survival (temsirolimus). These agents mediate much of their effect through inhibition of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) -VEGF-VEGF receptor axis. Their inhibitory activity for the signaling of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptor β or kinases like c-Raf may contribute to the antitumor effects of the multitargeted kinase inhibitors. Nevertheless, all four single agents rarely, if ever, induce complete responses and, at present, all patients develop resistance and, ultimately, progress during therapy. A critical need exists to develop strategies that may increase the degree of the antitumor effects with the hope of inducing more complete responses impeding the onset of or elimination of refractory disease. Combinations of these and other targeted agents may overcome the resistance that develops with single-agent therapy and could be incorporated either as part of initial therapy or later when disease resistance develops. Approaches aimed at combining these agents can be based on the genetics and biology of clear cell RCC. von Hippel-Lindau loss leads to an increase in cellular levels of HIF (HIF-1α or HIF-2α) leading to increased expression of a number of hypoxia-regulated genes critical to cancer progression. Combinations of targeted agents may block several of these mediators (VEGF, epidermal growth factor receptor, and PDGF), so-called horizontal blockade. Blockade could also take place at two levels of the pathways (vertical blockade), either at HIF and VEGF or at VEGF and VEGF receptor signaling. Many of the above strategies are ongoing and will require careful phase 1 determination of toxicity and even more rigorous phase 2 analysis before moving onto phase 3 trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Jan 15 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Opportunities and obstacles to combination targeted therapy in renal cell cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this