Cetuximab / panitumumab


About one-third of all epithelial cancers express high levels of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R). Expression of EGF-R in a tumor is an indicator of poor prognosis, decreased survival, and increased metastasis.

Cetuximab (Erbitux®) is a monoclonal antibody directed against this EGF-R. By binding to this receptor, cetuximab blocks phosphorylation and activation of kinases in signal transduction, resulting in inhibition of cell growth, cell division, migration, angiogenesis, and induction of apoptosis. Cetuximab stimulates the cell-mediated immune response by attracting cytotoxic effector cells.

The drug is used in combination with irinotecan to treat colorectal carcinomas and its metastases that are characterized by k-RAS wild type.

The side effects can be very serious and may include allergic reactions. Other more common side effects of cetuximab treatment includes acne-like rash and dry skin.