ALK-targeted therapy for lung cancer: ready for prime time.
Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung
Molecular Targeted Therapy
Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Ongoing research into the molecular basis of lung cancer has yielded insight into various critical pathways that are deregulated in lung tumorigenesis, and in particular key driver mutations integral to cancer cell survival and proliferation. One of the most recent examples of this has been definition of translocations and functional dysregulation of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene in a subset of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. The pace of research progress in this area has been remarkable: chromosomal rearrangements involving this gene in lung cancer were first reported in 2007 by a team of investigators in Japan. Less than 3 years later, an early-phase clinical trial of a targeted ALK inhibitor has yielded impressive responses in patients with advanced lung cancer containing ALK rearrangements, and mechanisms of acquired resistance to ALK-targeted therapy are being reported. A definitive study randomizing patients with ALK-mutant lung cancer to crizotinib (also known as PF-02341066 or 1066) versus standard therapy has recently completed enrollment.Taken together, these data describe a trajectory of research progress from basic discovery science to real-world implementation that should serve as a model for future integration of preclinical and clinical therapeutic research.