Unlocking the Potential of the Anti-EGFR Antibody Cetuximab

Cetuximab has an established role in the treatment of patients with recurrent/metastatic colorectal cancer and head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC). However, the long-term effectiveness of cetuximab has been limited by the development of acquired resistance, leading to tumor relapse. By contrast, immunotherapies can elicit long-term tumor regression, but the overall response rates are much more limited.

In addition to epidermal growth factor (EGFR) inhibition, cetuximab can activate natural killer (NK) cells to induce antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). In view of the above, there is an unmet need for the majority of patients that are treated with both monotherapy cetuximab and immunotherapy.

Accumulated evidence from (pre-)clinical studies suggests that targeted therapies can have synergistic antitumor effects through combination with immunotherapy.

However, further optimizations, aimed towards illuminating the multifaceted interplay, are required to avoid toxicity and to achieve better therapeutic effectiveness. The current review summarizes existing (pre-)clinical evidence to provide a rationale supporting the use of combined cetuximab and immunotherapy approaches in patients with different types of cancer.

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.