The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a transmembrane receptor involved in the regulation of a complex array of essential biological processes such as cell proliferation and survival. Dysregulation of the EGFR signaling network has been frequently reported in multiple human cancers and has been associated with the processes of tumor development, growth, proliferation, metastasis, and angiogenesis. Inhibition of the EGFR was associated with antitumor effects in preclinical models. On the basis of these data, therapeutics targeting the EGFR were explored in clinical trials. OSI-774 is a small-molecule selective inhibitor of the EGFR tyrosine kinase. In preclinical studies, OSI774 inhibited the phosphorylation of the EGFR in a dose-dependent and concentration-dependent manner resulting in cell cycle arrest and induction of apoptosis. In in vivo studies, this agent caused tumor growth inhibition and showed synergistic effects when combined with conventional chemotherapy. Subsequent single-agent phase I studies and phase I studies in combination with chemotherapy showed that the agent has a good safety profile and induced tumor growth inhibition in a substantial number of patients with a variety of different solid tumors. Preliminary reports from phase II studies confirmed the excellent tolerability of OSI-774 and showed encouraging preliminary activity. Phase III studies have either been completed or are ongoing in several tumor types such as lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. In summary, OSI-774 is a novel inhibitor of the EGFR tyrosine kinase that has shown promising activity in initial studies and is currently undergoing full development as an anticancer drug.
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