Drug Resistance Mechanisms in Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma


  • Janet Wangari-Talbot Fox Chase Cancer Center, Developmental Therapeutics Program, 333 Cottman Ave, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Elizabeth Hopper-Borge Fox Chase Cancer Center, Developmental Therapeutics Program, 333 Cottman Ave, Philadelphia, PA, USA




Non-small cell lung cancer, EGFR, EML4-ALK, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, drug resistance, ABC transporters, ABCB1, ABCC1, ABCC10, ABCG2.


Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world. “Driver” and “passenger” mutations identified in lung cancer indicate that genetics play a major role in the development of the disease, progression, metastasis and response to therapy. Survival rates for lung cancer treatment have remained stagnant at ~15% over the past 40 years in patients with disseminated disease despite advances in surgical techniques, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Resistance to therapy; either intrinsic or acquired has been a major hindrance to treatment leading to great interest in studies seeking to understand and overcome resistance. Genetic information gained from molecular analyses has been critical in identifying druggable targets and tumor profiles that may be predictors of therapeutic response and mediators of resistance. Mutated or overexpressed epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and translocations in the echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4)-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) genes (EML4-ALK) are examples of genetic aberrations resulting in targeted therapies for both localized and metastatic disease. Positive clinical responses have been noted in patients harboring these genetic mutations when treated with targeted therapies compared to patients lacking these mutations. Resistance is nonetheless a major factor contributing to the failure of targeted agents and standard cytotoxic agents. In this review, we examine molecular mechanisms that are potential drivers of resistance in non-small cell lung carcinoma, the most frequently diagnosed form of lung cancer. The mechanisms addressed include resistance to molecular targeted therapies as well as conventional chemotherapeutics through the activity of multidrug resistance proteins.


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How to Cite

Janet Wangari-Talbot, & Elizabeth Hopper-Borge. (2013). Drug Resistance Mechanisms in Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma. Journal of Cancer Research Updates, 2(4),  265–282. https://doi.org/10.6000/1929-2279.2013.02.04.5