Angiogenesis inhibition as a therapeutic strategy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

Richard D. Hall, Tri M. Le, Daniel E. Haggstrom, Ryan D. Gentzler


In many cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), tumor angiogenesis pathways have been identified as important therapeutic targets. Angiogenesis is essential in the process of primary tumor growth, proliferation and metastasis. One of the best characterized group of protein factors for angiogenesis include the members of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family, consisting of VEGF-(A-D), and placenta growth factor (PIGF). Targeting tumor angiogenesis has been approached through two primary methods, monoclonal antibodies that block VEGF-vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) binding or small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that inhibit the downstream VEGFR mediated signaling. Many TKIs inhibit multiple pro-angiogenic and pro-proliferative pathways such as the mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway. Bevacizumab and ramucirumab, monoclonal antibodies targeting VEGF and the VEGFR, respectively, have each led to improvements in overall survival (OS) for NSCLC when added to standard first and second line chemotherapy, respectively. Small incremental gains seen with both bevacizumab and ramucirumab may be further improved upon by incorporating novel agents and treatment strategies, and many additional trials are ongoing.