HER2 driven non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): potential therapeutic approaches
Oncogenic driver mutations identified in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have triggered the development of drugs capable of interfering in intracellular signaling pathways involved in tumorigenesis. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as erlotinib or gefitinib, have demonstrated promising results in patients with advanced NSCLC that harbor EGFR mutations. Human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2/ERBB2/neu) is a member of the ERBB family of tyrosine kinase receptors, and is activated by homodimerization or heterodimerization with other ERBB receptors. Deregulation of HER2 gene, by overexpression and/or gene amplification has been proved important in breast and gastric cancer, in which overexpression of HER2 confers greater response to specific anti-HER2 treatment, including trastuzumab. In lung carcinogenesis, HER2 mutations are thought to be more clinically relevant than overexpression or gene amplification. HER2 mutations in NSCLC, described exclusively in adenocarcinoma histology, are present in approximately 4% of this subset of lung cancer patients, suggesting that thousands of patients per year may possibly benefit from targeted therapy. Therefore, we conclude that systematic genotypic testing in this subgroup of NSCLC patients should include detection of HER2 mutations. In addition, clinical trials with standard antiHER2 agents and new investigational therapies are ongoing, with promising preliminary results, as illustrated in this review, although further research is warranted in this field.