Tarceva Mechanism Of Action

Erlotinib hydrochloride (originally coded as OSI-774) is a drug used to treat non-small cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and several other types of cancer.
Erlotinib specifically targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase, which is highly expressed and occasionally mutated in various forms of cancer. It binds in a reversible fashion to the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) binding site of the receptor. For the signal to be transmitted, two members of the EGFR family need to come together to form a homodimer. These then use the molecule of ATP to autophosphorylate each other, which causes a conformational change in their intracellular structure, exposing a further binding site for binding proteins that cause a signal cascade to the nucleus. By inhibiting the ATP, autophosphorylation is not possible and the signal is stopped.

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Erlotinib has shown a survival benefit in the treatment of lung cancer in phase III trials. It has been approved for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer that has failed at least one prior chemotherapy regimen. In November 2005, the FDA approved the use of erlotinib in combination with gemcitabine for treatment of locally advanced, unresectable, or metastatic pancreatic cancer.

A test for the EGFR mutation in cancer patients has been developed by Genzyme. This may predict who will respond to erlotinib and other tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It is reported that responses among patients with lung cancer are seen most often in females who were never smokers, particularly Asian women and those with adenocarcinoma cell type.

Erlotinib has recently been shown to be a potent inhibitor of JAK2V617F activity. JAK2V617F is a mutant of tyrosine kinase JAK2, is found in most patients with polycythemia vera (PV) and a substantial proportion of patients with idiopathic myelofibrosis or essential thrombocythemia. The study suggests that erlotinib may be used for treatment of JAK2V617F-positive PV and other myeloproliferative disorders.

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