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Targeting EGFR with photodynamic therapy in combination with Erbitux enhances in vivo bladder tumor response

Author(s): Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy | Gan Yik | Soo Khee | Olivo Malini

Journal: Molecular Cancer
ISSN 1476-4598

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 94;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Abstract Background Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising cancer treatment modality that involves the interaction of the photosensitizer, molecular oxygen and light of specific wavelength to destroy tumor cells. Treatment induced hypoxia is one of the main side effects of PDT and efforts are underway to optimize PDT protocols for improved efficacy. The aim of this study was to investigate the anti-tumor effects of PDT plus Erbitux, an angiogenesis inhibitor that targets epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), on human bladder cancer model. Tumor-bearing nude mice were assigned to four groups that included control, PDT, Erbitux and PDT plus Erbitux and tumor volume was charted over 90-day period. Results Our results demonstrate that combination of Erbitux with PDT strongly inhibits tumor growth in the bladder tumor xenograft model when compared to the other groups. Downregulation of EGFR was detected using immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence and western blotting. Increased apoptosis was associated with tumor inhibition in the combination therapy group. In addition, we identified the dephosphorylation of ErbB4 at tyrosine 1284 site to play a major role in tumor inhibition. Also, at the RNA level downregulation of EGFR target genes cyclin D1 and c-myc was observed in tumors treated with PDT plus Erbitux. Conclusion The combination therapy of PDT and Erbitux effectively inhibits tumor growth and is a promising therapeutic approach in the treatment of bladder tumors.
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