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      Clinical utility of erlotinib for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer in Japanese patients: current evidence


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          Gefitinib, an epidermal growth factor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR-TKI), has been approved in Japan for the treatment of patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) based on Phase II clinical trials since 2002. Erlotinib, another EGFR-TKI, was also approved a few years thereafter. In 2004, activating mutations in the EGFR gene were discovered to be a predictive biomarker for EGFR-TKI treatment, and gefitinib, which is not effective for patients with EGFR wild-type NSCLC, has since been used only in patients with EGFR-mutated NSCLC. In contrast, erlotinib is potentially effective for the treatment of EGFR wild-type NSCLC. Similar to gefitinib, erlotinib is also effective for EGFR-mutated NSCLC and has been used as an initial treatment for patients with advanced EGFR-mutated NSCLC. Both gefitinib and erlotinib can be used in a Japanese clinical setting. The approved daily dose of erlotinib (150 mg) is equal to the maximum tolerated dose of erlotinib. In contrast, the daily dose of gefitinib has been set at 250 mg, which is approximately one-third of the maximum tolerated dose of gefitinib. Accordingly, a higher serum concentration can be achieved using erlotinib, compared with gefitinib. This advantage can be applied to the treatment of central nervous system metastases (brain metastasis and carcinomatous meningitis), the treatment of which is complicated by the difficulty drugs have penetrating the blood–brain barrier. Although patients with EGFR-mutated NSCLC respond dramatically to EGFR-TKIs, some patients have a poor response and the majority eventually undergo disease progression. To overcome such resistance, several novel treatment strategies, such as combination therapy and next-generation EGFR-TKIs, have been attempted.

          Most cited references68

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          EGF receptor gene mutations are common in lung cancers from "never smokers" and are associated with sensitivity of tumors to gefitinib and erlotinib.

          Somatic mutations in the tyrosine kinase (TK) domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene are reportedly associated with sensitivity of lung cancers to gefitinib (Iressa), kinase inhibitor. In-frame deletions occur in exon 19, whereas point mutations occur frequently in codon 858 (exon 21). We found from sequencing the EGFR TK domain that 7 of 10 gefitinib-sensitive tumors had similar types of alterations; no mutations were found in eight gefitinib-refractory tumors (P = 0.004). Five of seven tumors sensitive to erlotinib (Tarceva), a related kinase inhibitor for which the clinically relevant target is undocumented, had analogous somatic mutations, as opposed to none of 10 erlotinib-refractory tumors (P = 0.003). Because most mutation-positive tumors were adenocarcinomas from patients who smoked <100 cigarettes in a lifetime ("never smokers"), we screened EGFR exons 2-28 in 15 adenocarcinomas resected from untreated never smokers. Seven tumors had TK domain mutations, in contrast to 4 of 81 non-small cell lung cancers resected from untreated former or current smokers (P = 0.0001). Immunoblotting of lysates from cells transiently transfected with various EGFR constructs demonstrated that, compared to wild-type protein, an exon 19 deletion mutant induced diminished levels of phosphotyrosine, whereas the phosphorylation at tyrosine 1092 of an exon 21 point mutant was inhibited at 10-fold lower concentrations of drug. Collectively, these data show that adenocarcinomas from never smokers comprise a distinct subset of lung cancers, frequently containing mutations within the TK domain of EGFR that are associated with gefitinib and erlotinib sensitivity.
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            Multi-institutional randomized phase II trial of gefitinib for previously treated patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (The IDEAL 1 Trial) [corrected].

            To evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of two doses of gefitinib (Iressa [ZD1839]; AstraZeneca, Wilmington, DE), a novel epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, in patients with pretreated advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This was a randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, multicenter phase II trial. Two hundred ten patients with advanced NSCLC who were previously treated with one or two chemotherapy regimens (at least one containing platinum) were randomly assigned to receive either 250-mg or 500-mg oral doses of gefitinib once daily. Efficacy was similar for the 250- and 500-mg/d groups. Objective tumor response rates were 18.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.5 to 27.3) and 19.0% (95% CI, 12.1 to 27.9); among evaluable patients, symptom improvement rates were 40.3% (95% CI, 28.5 to 53.0) and 37.0% (95% CI, 26.0 to 49.1); median progression-free survival times were 2.7 and 2.8 months; and median overall survival times were 7.6 and 8.0 months, respectively. Symptom improvements were recorded for 69.2% (250 mg/d) and 85.7% (500 mg/d) of patients with a tumor response. Adverse events (AEs) at both dose levels were generally mild (grade 1 or 2) and consisted mainly of skin reactions and diarrhea. Drug-related toxicities were more frequent in the higher-dose group. Withdrawal due to drug-related AEs was 1.9% and 9.4% for patients receiving gefitinib 250 and 500 mg/d, respectively. Gefitinib showed clinically meaningful antitumor activity and provided symptom relief as second- and third-line treatment in these patients. At 250 mg/d, gefitinib had a favorable AE profile. Gefitinib 250 mg/d is an important, novel treatment option for patients with pretreated advanced NSCLC [corrected]
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              Efficacy of gefitinib, an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase, in symptomatic patients with non-small cell lung cancer: a randomized trial.

              More persons in the United States die from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) than from breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer combined. In preclinical testing, oral gefitinib inhibited the growth of NSCLC tumors that express the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a mediator of cell signaling, and phase 1 trials have demonstrated that a fraction of patients with NSCLC progressing after chemotherapy experience both a decrease in lung cancer symptoms and radiographic tumor shrinkages with gefitinib. To assess differences in symptomatic and radiographic response among patients with NSCLC receiving 250-mg and 500-mg daily doses of gefitinib. Double-blind, randomized phase 2 trial conducted from November 2000 to April 2001 in 30 US academic and community oncology centers. Patients (N = 221) had either stage IIIB or IV NSCLC for which they had received at least 2 chemotherapy regimens. Daily oral gefitinib, either 500 mg (administered as two 250-mg gefitinib tablets) or 250 mg (administered as one 250-mg gefitinib tablet and 1 matching placebo). Improvement of NSCLC symptoms (2-point or greater increase in score on the summed lung cancer subscale of the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung [FACT-L] instrument) and tumor regression (>50% decrease in lesion size on imaging studies). Of 221 patients enrolled, 216 received gefitinib as randomized. Symptoms of NSCLC improved in 43% (95% confidence interval [CI], 33%-53%) of patients receiving 250 mg of gefitinib and in 35% (95% CI, 26%-45%) of patients receiving 500 mg. These benefits were observed within 3 weeks in 75% of patients. Partial radiographic responses occurred in 12% (95% CI, 6%-20%) of individuals receiving 250 mg of gefitinib and in 9% (95% CI, 4%-16%) of those receiving 500 mg. Symptoms improved in 96% of patients with partial radiographic responses. The overall survival at 1 year was 25%. There were no significant differences between the 250-mg and 500-mg doses in rates of symptom improvement (P =.26), radiographic tumor regression (P =.51), and projected 1-year survival (P =.54). The 500-mg dose was associated more frequently with transient acne-like rash (P =.04) and diarrhea (P =.006). Gefitinib, a well-tolerated oral EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor, improved disease-related symptoms and induced radiographic tumor regressions in patients with NSCLC persisting after chemotherapy.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                31 July 2014
                : 8
                : 1037-1046
                [1 ]Department of Genome Biology, Kindai University Faculty of Medicine, Osaka, Japan
                [2 ]Department of Medical Oncology, Kindai University Faculty of Medicine, Osaka, Japan
                [3 ]Department of Medical Oncology, Kishiwada Municipal Hospital, Osaka, Japan
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Yosuke Togashi, Department of Genome Biology, Kindai University Faculty of Medicine, 377-2 Ohno-higashi, Osaka-Sayama, Osaka 5898511, Japan, Tel +81 72 366 0221, Fax +81 72 367 6369, Email ytogashi@ 123456med.kindai.ac.jp
                © 2014 Togashi et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.


                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine
                non-small-cell lung cancer,epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor,erlotinib,egfr mutation


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