The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the drug cetuximab, known as Erbitux, for the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer. Studies have shown that Erbitux can shrink tumors and delay tumor growth, but it is not known if treatment will improve symptoms or help patients live longer.
Erbitux, developed by ImClone Systems Incorporated, is the first monoclonal antibody approved for treatment of colorectal cancer. It will be used in patients who are no longer responding to or cannot take the chemotherapy drug irinotecan. Erbitux works by blocking a type of protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); the action deprives tumors of an element they need to grow. The FDA also has approved a test kit to help doctors determine which patients have these receptors and are therefore eligible for the treatment.