Slew of Targeted Cancer Drugs on the Way

Zosia Chustecka

March 01, 2012

March 1, 20102 — There are currently 79 targeted cancer drugs under clinical development. If successful, they are likely to be launched between now and 2018, according to a report published February 3 by Espicom Business Intelligence.

The report predicts that many of these new products will be molecular-targeted drugs that will be launched with companion diagnostic tests that identify the patients who are most likely to benefit from the therapy.

They will follow in the footsteps of 2 such products that were launched in the last year: crizotinib (Xalkori, Pfizer) for patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have the ALK rearrangement (about 4% of patients); and vemurafenib (Zelboraf, Genentech) for patients with melanoma tumors that that harbor the BRAF mutation (about 50% of patients).

The report also predicts that the near future will see "an increase in the number of marketed products and a substantial increase in those directed against novel targets."

Susan Viney, who wrote the report, told Medscape Medical News that these novel targets include the Met and Akt signaling pathways. She has identified 6 products in clinical development (minimum phase 2 trials) that target the Met pathway; they cover a range of potential indications, including thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, NSCLC, and renal cell carcinoma. She specifically mentioned a product directed against P13k/Akt that has shown impressive results in colorectal cancer, "demonstrating a more than 60% overall survival, compared to chemotherapy."

Other notable drugs in development include a phosphatidylserine-targeting monoclonal antibody and heat shock proteins.

Research efforts are also being directed against established targets, such as ErbB(HER) and VEGF, to try to develop "new and improved agents with this group," the report notes. Among these is dacomitinib, under development by Pfizer, which is a multikinase inhibitor that targets HER1, 2, and 4, and has shown superiority over erlotinib (Tarceva, Roche) in extending progression-free survival in patients with advanced NSCLC.

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