Generic Name: Cetuximab Brand Name(s): Erbitux® IUPAC: FDA Approval: yes Manufacturer Link
Usage: Cetuximab is approved for the treatment of: advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (in combination with radiation). Recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (after failure of platinum-based therapy). Metastatic, EGFR-expressing colorectal cancer (after failure of irinotecan and oxaliplatin). Metastatic, EGFR-expressing colorectal cancer (in combination with irinotecan)
Mechanism: Cetuximab (Erbitux®) binds to the human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) to inhibit the binding of epidermal growth factor (EGF). This action prohibits the activation of receptor-associated kinases within the cell, resulting in an inhibition of cell growth, promotion of apoptosis and decrease in the production of matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)--two factors necessary for tumor maintenance and growth. Note that the image shown is a general structure of an antibody. There are four proteins bound together in a 'Y' shape. The two top tips of the Y are where the antibody binds with its target. This means that each antibody molecule can bind to two identical target regions.
Side Effects: Side Effects include: infusion reactions (airway obstruction, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness or cardiac arrest), skin rash, inflammation or abscess formation, headache, diarrhea, infection. The most frequent side effects are acne-like rashes, weakness or discomfort, diarrhea, and nausea.
Contraindications: The most serious toxicities reported with cetuximab are cardiopulmonary arrest, pulmonary toxicity and electrolyte abnormalities (low potassium, magnesium and/or calcium levels). Due to potential harm to a developing fetus, cetuximab should be used with caution in pregnant women and those on cetuximab treatment should avoid becoming pregnant and should not breastfeed.