The development of orally active small molecule inhibitors of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has led to new treatment options for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients with activating mutations of the EGFR gene show sensitivity to, and clinical benefit from, treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKls). First generation reversible ATP-competitive EGFR-TKls, gefitinib and erlotinib, are effective as first, second-line or maintenance therapy. Despite initial benefit, most patients develop resistance within a year, 50-60% of cases being related to the appearance of a T790M gatekeeper mutation. Newer, irreversible EGFR-TKls - afatinib and dacomitinib - covalently bind to and inhibit multiple receptors in the ErbB family (EGFR, HER2 and HER4). These agents have been mainly evaluated for first-line treatment but also in the setting of acquired resistance to first-generation EGFR-TKls. Afatinib is the first ErbB family blocker approved for patients with NSCLC with activating EGFR mutations; dacomitinib is in late stage clinical development. Mutant-selective EGFR inhibitors (AZD9291, CO-1686, HM61713) that specifically target the T790M resistance mutation are in early development. The EGFR-TKIs differ in their spectrum of target kinases, reversibility of binding to EGFR receptor, pharmacokinetics and potential for drug-drug interactions, as discussed in this review. For the clinician, these differences are relevant in the setting of polymedicated patients with NSCLC, as well as from the perspective of innovative anticancer drug combination strategies.
- Epidermal growth factor receptor
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Tyrosine kinase inhibitors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging