Emerging application of genomics-guided therapeutics in personalized lung cancer treatment

Ann Transl Med. 2018 May;6(9):160. doi: 10.21037/atm.2018.05.02.


In lung cancer, genomics-driven comprehensive molecular profiling has identified novel chemically and immunologically addressable vulnerabilities, resulting in an increasing application of precision medicine by targeted inactivation of tumor oncogenes and immunogenic activation of host anti-tumor surveillance as modes of treatment. However, initially profound response of these targeted therapies is followed by relapse due to therapy-resistant residual disease states. Although distinct mechanisms and frameworks for therapy resistance have been proposed, accounting for and upfront prediction of resistance trajectories has been challenging. In this review, we discuss in both non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), the current standing, and challenges associated with genomics-guided strategies for personalized therapy against both oncogenic alterations as well as post-therapy resistance mechanisms. In NSCLC, we catalog the targeted therapy approaches against most notable oncogenic alterations such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), serine/threonine-protein kinase b-raf (BRAF), Kirsten rat sarcoma viral proto-oncogene (KRAS), anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), ROS1 proto-oncogene receptor tyrosine kinase (ROS1). For SCLC, currently highly recalcitrant to targeted therapy, we enumerate a range of exciting and maturing precision medicine approaches. Furthermore, we discuss a number of immunotherapy approaches, in combination or alone, that are being actively pursued clinically in lung cancer. This review not only highlights common mechanistic themes underpinning different classes of resistance and discusses tumor heterogeneity as a source of residual disease, but also discusses potential ways to overcome these barriers. We emphasize how an extensive understanding of these themes can predict and improve therapeutic strategies, such as through poly-therapy approaches, to forestall tumor evolution upfront.

Keywords: Lung cancer; drug resistance; genomics; precision medicine.

Publication types

  • Review