Chemotherapeutics-resistance “arms” race: An update on mechanisms involved in resistance limiting EGFR inhibitors in lung cancer
Clinical reports suggest that EGFR-mutated lung cancer usually respond significantly towards small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Same studies also report the eventual development of acquired resistance within a median time interval of 9 to 14 months. One of the major mechanisms involved in this acquired resistance was found to be a secondary point mutation at gate-keeper residue, EGFR T790M. However, there are other recent studies which disclose the role of few other novel key players such as, ZEB1, TOPK etc., in the development of tolerance towards the EGFR TKI's, along with other commonly known mechanisms, such as amplification of signalling pathways such as, c-MET, Erbb2, AXL, additional acquired secondary mutations (PIK3CA, BRAF), or phenotypic transformation (small cell or epithelial to mesenchymal transitions). Interestingly, a recent study showed development of resistance via another point mutation, C797S, in case of tumors which were previously resistant and were administered agents capable of overcoming T790M gatekeeper mutation based resistance. Thus, raising serious concern over the direction of drug development involving tyrosine kinases such as EGFR. Current approaches focussing on development of third generation inhibitors, dual inhibitors or inhibitors of HSP90 have shown significant activity but do not answer the long term question of resistance.