Axitinib is a new kinase inhibitor used for treatment of cancer. It was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in January 2012.
Kinase inhibitors are not cytotoxic the way conventional chemotherapy agents are. They don't kill the malignant cells so much as prevent them from sticking together as a coherent tumor. Axitinib is a multi-kinase inhibitor. It targets the tumor growth factors VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, PDGFR-beta, and cKIT.. Axitinib is classified as a "small molecule" cancer drug, as opposed to a biologic.
Patients take axitinib as a pill which they swallow. This is another advantage over conventional chemotherapy which is more often administered by injection. However, your oncologist will probably give you axitinibi in conjunction with a conventional chemotherapy.
The FDA approved axitinib as a second-line treatment for renal cell carcinoma. Although approved to be labeled for kidney cancer, axitinib is available for oncologists to use for other cancers on an "off-label" basis. It is being tested in trials for other cancers including non-small cell lung cancer.
Axitinib, an oral small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor targeted to angiogenesis, has demonstrated activity in advanced renal cell carcinoma. Common side effects include hypertension, fatigue and dysphonia.
Axitinib is one of many drugs approved by the FDA for renal cell carcinoma; since 2005 seven new drugs have been approved, although an industry analyst recently predicted it would be the leader by 2017 with 47% of the market.
Kinase inhibitors are an important class of chemotherapy drugs that offer significant benefits in treating certain forms of cancer. These advanced therapies target the cancer cells specifically to minimize the damage to surrounding tissue. Kinase enzymes perform a valuable function inside the body by creating chemical changes within amino acid cells that allow them to subdivide and grow naturally. When these kinase enzyme functions are well regulated, cells can perform important tasks necessary to good health. Failure to regulate kinase enzymatic functions, however, can lead to uncontrolled cell growth and the mutations found in many cancers. In particular, tyrosine kinase enzymes are vital to the regulation of cell growth and are most often targeted by kinase inhibiting chemotherapy regimens as a result.
Like other endothelial growth factor receptor drugs, there is a risk of skin rash from axitinib. In general these targeted therapy drugs have fewer and less severe side effects than conventional chemotherapy.