Open Access
Molecular markers of response and resistance to EGFR inhibitors in head and neck cancers
Carol Box1,Miriam Zimmermann1,Suzanne Eccles1,2,*
Tumour Biology and Metastasis Team, Division of Cancer Therapeutics, McElwain Laboratories, The Institute of Cancer Research, Cotswold Road, Belmont, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5NG, UK
Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit, UK
DOI: 10.2741/4118 Volume 18 Issue 2, pp.520-542
Published: 01 January 2013
*Corresponding Author(s):  
Suzanne Eccles

Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) are key targets for novel cancer therapeutics since they activate multiple oncogenic signalling pathways. Also, they are inherently ‘druggable’ due to their small ATP-dependent kinase domains (inhibitable by small molecules) and cell surface location which renders them accessible to monoclonal antibody-based therapies. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in the majority of SCCHN cases and this review focuses primarily on the progress made in targeting the EGFR for the therapy of SCCHN by both small molecules and antibody-based therapies. We then discuss the overlapping and distinct molecular markers of response, innate or acquired resistance to each modality, and how these may be overcome. We also consider other RTKs overexpressed in this disease that may impact on responses and/or provide additional targets for combination therapy.

Key words

Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Head and Neck, Resistance, Response, Receptor Tyrosine Kinase, Inhibitor, Antibody, Review

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Carol Box, Miriam Zimmermann, Suzanne Eccles. Molecular markers of response and resistance to EGFR inhibitors in head and neck cancers. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2013. 18(2); 520-542.