Centre hospitalier universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Clinical Associate, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, BH15-701, rue du Bugnon 46, CH 1011 Lausanne, Suisse
Recombinant human TNF (rhTNF) has a selective effect on endothelial cells in tumour angiogenic vessels. Its clinical use has been limited because of its property to induce vascular collapsus. TNF administration through isolated limb perfusion (ILP) for regionally advanced melanomas and soft tissue sarcomas of the limbs was shown to be safe and efficient. When combined to the alkylating agent melphalan, a single ILP produces a very high objective response rate. ILP with TNF and melphalan provided the proof of concept that a vasculotoxic strategy combined to chemotherapy may produce a strong anti-tumour effect. The registered indication of TNF-based ILP is a regional therapy for regionally spread tumours. In soft tissue sarcomas, it is a limb sparing neoadjuvant treatment and, in melanoma in-transit metastases, a curative treatment. Despite its demonstrated regional efficiency TNF-based ILP is unlikely to have any impact on survival. High TNF dosages induce endothelial cells apoptosis, leading to vascular destruction. However, lower TNF dosage produces a very strong effect that is to increase the drug penetration into the tumour, presumably by decreasing the intratumoural hypertension resulting in better tumour uptake. TNF-ILP allowed the identification of the role of αVβ3 integrin deactivation as an important mechanism of antiangiogenesis. Several recent studies have shown that TNF targeting is possible, paving the way to a new opportunity to administer TNF systemically for improving cancer drug penetration. TNF was the first agent registered for the treatment of cancer that improves drug penetration in tumours and selectively destroys angiogenic vessels.