Vismodegib, a small-molecule inhibitor of the hedgehog pathway for the treatment of advanced cancers
Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2010 Jun;11(6):707-18. De Smaele E, Ferretti E, Gulino A.
Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Experimental Medicine, Viale Regina Elena 324, 00161 Rome, Italy.
Vismodegib (GDC-0449) is a small, orally administrable molecule, belonging to the 2-arylpyridine class, which was discovered by Genentech Inc under a collaboration with Curis Inc. Vismodegib inhibits the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway, which is involved in tumorigenesis, thus providing a strong rationale for its use in the treatment of a variety of cancers. Vismodegib suppresses Hh signaling by binding to and interfering with smoothened, a membrane protein that provides positive signals to the Hh signaling pathway. Preclinical studies demonstrated the antitumor activity of vismodegib in mouse models of medulloblastoma (MB) and in xenograft models of colorectal and pancreatic cancer. Phase I clinical trials in patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and MB highlighted an objective response to vismodegib. Reported side effects were minor, with only one grade 4 adverse event. Vismodegib is currently undergoing phase II clinical trials for the treatment of advanced BCC, metastatic colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, MB and other solid tumors. Because of its low toxicity and specificity for the Hh pathway, this drug has potential advantages compared with conventional chemotherapy, and may also be used in combination treatments. Clinical trials with other Hh inhibitors are also ongoing and their therapeutic potential will need to be compared with vismodegib