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Lung Cancer. 2014 Nov;86(2):121-5. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2014.09.005. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

MEK inhibition in non-small cell lung cancer.

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Division of Hematology and Oncology, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Pharmacology, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


KRAS mutations are the most common mutations in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with adenocarcinoma histology. KRAS mutations result in the activation of the RAF-MEK-ERK pathway, and agents that target RAF-MEK-ERK pathways have been investigated in KRAS mutant NSCLC. The two agents furthest in development are selumetinib and trametinib. Trametinib has greater binding for the MEK1/2 allosteric site, and generally has superior pharmacokinetics. A randomized phase II trial of docetaxel with and without selumetinib revealed that the combination resulted numerically superior overall survival, and a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival and objective response rate. However, a concerning rate of hospital admission, grade 3 or 4 neutropenia, and febrile neutropenia was observed with the combination. Trials have investigated MEK inhibitors as single agents and in combination with erlotinib, and the data do not support the further development. The activity of MEK inhibitors appears to be similar in patients with KRAS mutant and wild-type NSCLC suggesting KRAS mutation status is not a reliable biomarker for efficacy. It is possible that mutations of genes in addition to KRAS mutations impact the activity of MEK inhibitors, or specific subsets of KRAS mutations may be resistant or susceptible to MEK inhibition. Other potential explanations are gene amplifications, alternative RNA splicing of genes resulting in activation of their protein products, and deregulation of noncoding RNAs and consequent altered protein expression.


Clinical trials; KRAS mutation; MEK inhibition; Selumetinib; Targeted therapy; Trametinib

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