EGFR somatic mutations define a subset of NSCLCs that are most likely to benefit from EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). These tumors are dependent on EGFR-signaling for survival. Recently, tyrosine kinase domain somatic mutations have been approved as criterion to decide first-line therapy in this group of advanced NSCLCs. Anyway, all patients ultimately develop resistance to these drugs. Acquired resistance is linked to a secondary EGFR mutation in about a half of patients. Uncontrolled activation of MET, another tyrosine kinase receptor, has been implicated in neoplastic invasive growth. MET is overexpressed, activated and sometimes mutated in NSCLC cell lines and tumor tissues. MET increased gene copy number has also been documented in NSCLC and has been studied as negative prognostic factor. It has also been found in about 20% of patients developing acquired resistance to TKIs inhibitors. In this group, it seems to display a new mechanism, which is able to mark tumor independence from EGFR signaling. The study of delayed resistance mechanisms could lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies. Different molecular alterations could be specifically targeted in order to extend disease control in this group of NSCLCs with distinct clinical and molecular features. EGFR irreversible inhibitors, MET inhibitors and dual EGFR/VEGFR inhibitors represent one of the most challenging issues in current clinical research. Ongoing clinical trials and future perspectives are discussed.
Keywords: EGFR, Tyrosine kinase inhibitors, resistance, mutations, amplifications, MET, VEGFR, NSCLC, Gefitinib, Erlotinib
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