Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Small is beautiful: insulin-like growth factors and their role in growth, development, and cancer.

PMID 20975071


Insulin-like growth factors were discovered more than 50 years ago as mediators of growth hormone that effect growth and differentiation of bone and skeletal muscle. Interest of the role of insulin-like growth factors in cancer reached a peak in the 1990s, and then waned until the availability in the past 5 years of monoclonal antibodies and small molecules that block the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor. In this article, we review the history of insulin-like growth factors and their role in growth, development, organism survival, and in cancer, both epithelial cancers and sarcomas. Recent developments regarding phase I to II clinical trials of such agents are discussed, as well as potential studies to consider in the future, given the lack of efficacy of one such monoclonal antibody in combination with cytotoxic chemotherapy in a first-line study in metastatic non-small-cell lung adenocarcinoma. Greater success with these agents clinically is expected when combining the agents with inhibitors of other cell signaling pathways in which cross-resistance has been observed.