Resistance to RET targeted therapy in Thyroid Cancer: Molecular basis and overcoming strategies

Cancer Treat Rev. 2022 Apr;105:102372. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2022.102372. Epub 2022 Mar 1.


Thyroid cancer is the most frequently diagnosed endocrine malignancy, with an increasing incidence over the last decades. The recent advances in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the carcinogenesis of thyroid cancer have led to a better therapeutic approach of these tumors. This has allowed the development and approval of several drugs during the past decade. The rearranged during transfection [RET] protooncogene encodes a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase, which is activated by chromosomal rearrangements or point mutations in multiple malignancies, including thyroid cancer. Selective RET inhibitors have proved their value in the treatment algorithm in molecularly selected patients with significantly high response rates and duration of response. Notwithstanding, there are patients who experiment rapid progression or tumor recurrence after an early response to those targeted therapies, which suggest the existence of primary and acquired mechanisms of resistance that have been largely unknown to date. In the present review, we attempt to provide a comprehensive analysis of the most relevant mechanisms of resistance to RET inhibitors which could help in the development of next generation MKI and RET inhibitors, along with combination strategies with different targeted therapies that could potentially overcome these resistances.

Keywords: Medullary thyroid cancer; Papillary thyroid cancer; Poorly differentiated thyroid cancer; RET; RET inhibitors; Thyroid cancer; Tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret* / genetics
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / genetics


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • RET protein, human