Biologic therapy in esophageal and gastric malignancies: current therapies and future directions
Biologic agents, including targeted antibodies as well as immunomodulators, are demonstrating unparalleled development and study across the entire spectrum of human malignancy. This review summarizes the current state of biologic therapies for esophageal, esophagogastric, and gastric malignancies, including those that target human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), c-Met, mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) and immunomodulators. We focus primarily on agents that have been included in phase II and III clinical trials in locally advanced, progressive, or metastatic esophageal and gastric malignancies. At this time, only two biologic therapies are recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN): trastuzumab for patients with esophageal/esophagogastric or gastric adenocarcinomas with HER2 overexpression and ramucirumab, a VEGFR-2 inhibitor, as a second-line therapy for metastatic disease. However, recent reports of increases in overall and progression-free survival for agents including pertuzumab, apatinib, and pembrolizumab will likely increase the use of targeted biologic therapy in clinical practice for esophageal and gastric malignancies.