Third-generation epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer
Mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene are the most common targetable genomic drivers of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), occurring in approximately 50% and 10–15% of adenocarcinomas of the lung in Asian and Western populations, respectively. The most common EGFR-activating mutations, the exon 19 deletion and the L858R point mutation occurring in the receptor tyrosine kinase domain, are susceptible to inhibition. The first EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) to be evaluated were the reversible first-generation EGFR TKIs, gefitinib and erlotinib, followed by the irreversible second-generation EGFR TKIs, afatinib and dacomitinib. The study of acquired resistance mechanisms to first- and second-generation EGFR TKIs in patients with activating EGFR-mutated NSCLC identified the gatekeeper T790M point mutation, present in over 50% of cases, as the most common mechanism of acquired resistance. The need to overcome this resistance mechanism led to the development of third-generation EGFR TKIs, of which osimertinib is the only one to date with regulatory approval. In this review, we present the clinical context leading to the development of third-generation EGFR TKIs, the mode of action of these inhibitors and the clinical data supporting their use. We review third-generation TKI agents that are approved, in development, and those that failed in clinical trials. Finally, we will touch upon ongoing studies and future directions, such as combination treatment strategies, currently being explored to improve the efficacy of treatment with third-generation EGFR TKIs.