The FDA approval of imatinib in 2001 was a breakthrough in molecularly targeted cancer therapy and heralded the emergence of kinase inhibitors as a key drug class in the oncology area and beyond. Twenty years on, this article analyses the landscape of approved and investigational therapies that target kinases and trends within it, including the most popular targets of kinase inhibitors and their expanding range of indications. There are currently 71 small-molecule kinase inhibitors (SMKIs) approved by the FDA and an additional 16 SMKIs approved by other regulatory agencies. Although oncology is still the predominant area for their application, there have been important approvals for indications such as rheumatoid arthritis, and one-third of the SMKIs in clinical development address disorders beyond oncology. Information on clinical trials of SMKIs reveals that approximately 110 novel kinases are currently being explored as targets, which together with the approximately 45 targets of approved kinase inhibitors represent only about 30% of the human kinome, indicating that there are still substantial unexplored opportunities for this drug class. We also discuss trends in kinase inhibitor design, including the development of allosteric and covalent inhibitors, bifunctional inhibitors and chemical degraders.
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