Metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is currently one of the most treatment-resistant malignancies. However, significant advances in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying RCC have led to the development of rationally designed therapies, which are now being tested clinically. To date, the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) pathway has been the most promising target, and two agents (BAY 43-9006 and SU 11248) that inhibit not only VEGFR but also other receptors, including platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3), KIT, and Raf kinase, were recently approved by the FDA for advanced RCC. In addition, a phase III trial investigating the addition of VEGF inhibition to interferon alpha (IFN-α) in RCC is also now going on. Although the clinical activity of existing agents is to be further defined in ongoing trials, the exciting clinical response data with VEGF inhibition in RCC have demonstrated a key role in the treatment of this historically resistant malignancy.
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