December 1st 2006
For the past 20 years, the systemic treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) has been limited primarily to cytokines, with few patients showing benefit. However, recent advances in understanding the pathobiology of RCC have led to the identification of novel therapeutic targets for this disease. Drugs specifically designed to inhibit these targets have been developed, with several showing superior efficacy over traditional cytokine therapy. Moreover, these agents are well tolerated and have improved the span of progression-free, and in some cases, overall survival. As a result, between December 2005 and January 2006, two of these targeted therapies—sunitinib (Sutent) and sorafenib (Nexavar)—were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of advanced RCC. The authors review the clinical trials that have focused on these two drugs as well as those concentrating on two other promising agents, bevacizumab (Avastin) and temsirolimus. The ways in which these novel drugs are changing the standard of care for metastatic RCC and the future directions of RCC clinical trials are also discussed.