Receptor and non-receptor tyrosine kinases (TKs) have emerged as clinically useful drug target molecules for treating gastrointestinal cancer. Imatinib mesilate (STI-571, Gleevec™), an inhibitior of bcr-abl TK, which was primarily designed to treat chronic myeloid leukemia is also an inhibitor of c-kit receptor TK, and is currently the drug of choice for the therapy of metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), which frequently express constitutively activated forms of the c-kit-receptor. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is involved in cell proliferation, metastasis and angiogenesis, is another important target. The two main classes of EGFR inhibitors are the TK inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies. Gefitinib (ZD1839, Iressa™) has been on trial for esophageal and colorectal cancer (CRC) and erlotinib (OSI-774, Tarceva™) on trial for esophageal, colorectal, hepatocellular, and biliary carcinoma. In addition, erlotinib has been evaluated in a Phase III study for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Cetuximab (IMC-C225, Erbitux™), a monoclonal EGFR antibody, has been FDA approved for the therapy of irinotecan resistant colorectal cancer and has been tested for pancreatic cancer. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor (VEGFR) are critical regulators of tumor angiogenesis. Bevacizumab (Avastin™), a monoclonal antibody against VEGF, was efficient in two randomized clinical trials investigating the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. It is also currently investigated for the therapy of pancreatic cancer in combination with gemcitabine. Other promising new drugs currently under preclinical and clinical evaluation, are VEGFR2 inhibitor PTK787/ZK 222584, thalidomide, farnesyl transferase inhibitor R115777 (tipifarnib, Zarnestra™), matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors, proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (Velcade™), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors, platelet derived growth factor receptor (PDGF-R) inhibitors, protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) 1/2 inhibitors, Rous sarcoma virus transforming oncogene (SRC) kinase inhibitors, histondeacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, small hypoxiainducible factor (HIF) inhibitors, aurora kinase inhibitors, hedgehog inhibitors, and TGF-β signalling inhibitors.
Keywords: gastrointestinal cancer, tyrosine kinase inhibitor, c-kit receptor inhibitor, epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor, vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor, farnesyl transferase inhibitor, matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor, proteasome inhibitor