The future of bladder cancer therapy: Optimizing the inhibition of the fibroblast growth factor receptor

Published:March 13, 2020DOI:


      • Targeted therapies in advanced/metastastic bladder cancer have significant challenges due to molecular heterogeneity.
      • FGFRs have been considered as promising drug targets for the therapy of various cancers, including advanced/metastatic bladder cancer.
      • Several inhibitors targeting FGFRs are in development.
      • Erdafitinib has been approved by FDA as a therapy for metastatic BC in patients who have progressed to platinum-based chemotherapy.


      Therapeutic options for metastatic bladder cancer (BC) have seen minimal evolution over the past 30 years, with platinum-based chemotherapy remaining the mainstay of standard of care for metastatic BC. Recently, five immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have been approved by the FDA as second-line therapy, and two ICIs are approved as first-line treatment in selected patients. Molecular alterations of muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) have been reported by The Cancer Genome Atlas. About 15% of patients with MIBC have molecular alterations in the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) axis. Several ongoing trials are testing novel FGF receptor (FGFR) inhibitors in patients with FGFR genomic aberrations. Recently, erdafitinib, a pan-FGFR inhibitor, was approved by the FDA in patients with metastatic BC who have progressed on platinum-based chemotherapy. We reviewed the literature over the last decade and provide a summary of current knowledge of FGF signaling, and the prognosis associated with FGFR mutations in BC. We cover the role of FGFR inhibition with non-selective and selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors as well as novel agents in metastatic BC. Efficacy and safety data including insights from mechanism-based toxicity are reported for selected populations of metastatic BC with FGFR aberrations. Current strategies to managing resistance to anti-FGFR agents is addressed, and the importance of developing reliable biomarkers as the therapeutic landscape moves towards an individualized therapeutic approach.


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