Malignant gliomas have retained their dismal prognosis despite aggressive multimodal conventional therapeutic approaches, illustrating the need for novel therapeutic strategies. Recent advances in the cellular and molecular biology of gliomas have enhanced our understanding of the role of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) and RTK-mediated signal transduction pathways in tumor initiation, maintenance, angiogenesis, and vascular proliferation. Special attention has been focused on targets such as epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFR), vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFR), and on pathways such as the Ras/Raf/mitogen-activated protein (MAP)-kinase and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. Novel targeted drugs known as small molecule inhibitors have been shown to modify the activity of these receptors and signaling pathways. Thus far, however, small molecule RTK inhibitor development has concentrated on a few RTK only, and drug activity has been comprehensively evaluated only in a limited number of different malignancies. One of the limiting factors for novel drug design and development is the incomplete knowledge of RTK functions in malignant glioma. This review summarizes current basic and clinical knowledge on the role of RTK in malignant glioma and on their importance as targets for new forms of therapy.
Keywords: EGFR, glioblastoma, glioma, PDGF, receptor tyrosine kinase, small molecule inhibitors, molecular targeting
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