ABSTRACT: “Targeted therapy” is becoming the centerpiece of current therapeutic strategies, and is often mentioned as the desirable direction for future progress. Why and how it is replacing past approaches in the management of solid tumors is the subject of this two-part overview. Here, in Part I, we describe areas where major inroads were initially achieved by targeting angiogenesis (central to the biology of renal cell carcinoma and hepatocellular cancer) and by unraveling pathways in the heterogeneous tumors of mesenchymal origin—spurred by the identification of c-Kit–activating mutations in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) and the regressions that ensued when tumors harboring these mutations were exposed to the tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib (Gleevec). More recently, the successes in the treatment of the notoriously refractory malignant melanoma via the targeting of a specific BRAF mutation and via immune activation represent an unprecedented achievement of this new therapeutic direction. For each cancer discussed in the first part of our overview, as well as in Part II, which will deal with more common cancers, we briefly cover the tumor biology, how targeting was achieved, the introduction of immune modulation or immune-conjugates, and the impact these therapies are having in the disease. Read More...

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