REVIEW Erlotinib is an EGFR inhibitor. The drug follows Iressa (gefitinib), which was the first drug of this type. 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 EGFR molecules need to come together to form a homodimer. These then use the molecule of ATP to trans-phosphorylate each other on tyrosine residues, which generates phosphotyrosine residues, recruiting the phosphotyrosine-binding proteins to EGFR to assemble protein complexes that transduce signal cascades to the nucleus or activate other cellular biochemical processes. By inhibiting the ATP, formation of phosphotyrosine residues in EGFR is not possible and the signal cascades are not initiated.
Raymond E, Faivre S, Armand J (2000). Epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase as a target for anticancer therapy. Drugs 60 Suppl 1: 15-23; discussion 41-2. PMID 11129168.
2009 - SATURN: A double-blind, randomized, phase III study of maintenance erlotinib versus placebo following nonprogression with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy in patients with advanced NSCLC.
Erlotinib for Advanced NSCLC is Marginally Cost Effective, Fran Lowry, Medscape, 25 February 2010.
Takimoto CH, Calvo E. Principles of Oncologic Pharmacotherapy in Pazdur R, Wagman LD, Camphausen KA, Hoskins WJ (Eds) Cancer Management: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 11 ed. 2008.