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Cancer Discov. 2013 Feb;3(2):168-81. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-12-0357. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

Noncovalent wild-type-sparing inhibitors of EGFR T790M.

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Department of Discovery Oncology, Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.


Approximately half of EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with small-molecule EGFR kinase inhibitors develop drug resistance associated with the EGF receptor (EGFR) T790M "gatekeeper" substitution, prompting efforts to develop covalent EGFR inhibitors, which can effectively suppress EGFR T790M in preclinical models. However, these inhibitors have yet to prove clinically efficacious, and their toxicity in skin, reflecting activity against wild-type EGFR, may limit dosing required to effectively suppress EGFR T790M in vivo. While profiling sensitivity to various kinase inhibitors across a large cancer cell line panel, we identified indolocarbazole compounds, including a clinically well-tolerated FLT3 inhibitor, as potent and reversible inhibitors of EGFR T790M that spare wild-type EGFR. These findings show the use of broad cancer cell profiling of kinase inhibitor efficacy to identify unanticipated novel applications, and they identify indolocarbazole compounds as potentially effective EGFR inhibitors in the context of T790M-mediated drug resistance in NSCLC.


EGFR-mutant lung cancer patients who respond to currently used EGFR kinase inhibitors invariably develop drug resistance, which is associated with the EGFR T790M resistance mutation in about half these cases. We unexpectedly identified a class of reversible potent inhibitors of EGFR T790M that do not inhibit wild-type EGFR, revealing a promising therapeutic strategy to overcome T790M-associated drug-resistant lung cancers.

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