Third-generation EGFR and ALK inhibitors: mechanisms of resistance and management

Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2022 Aug;19(8):499-514. doi: 10.1038/s41571-022-00639-9. Epub 2022 May 9.


The discoveries of EGFR mutations and ALK rearrangements as actionable oncogenic drivers in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has propelled a biomarker-directed treatment paradigm for patients with advanced-stage disease. Numerous EGFR and ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) with demonstrated efficacy in patients with EGFR-mutant and ALK-rearranged NSCLCs have been developed, culminating in the availability of the highly effective third-generation TKIs osimertinib and lorlatinib, respectively. Despite their marked efficacy, resistance to these agents remains an unsolved fundamental challenge. Both 'on-target' mechanisms (largely mediated by acquired resistance mutations in the kinase domains of EGFR or ALK) and 'off-target' mechanisms of resistance (mediated by non-target kinase alterations such as bypass signalling activation or phenotypic transformation) have been identified in patients with disease progression on osimertinib or lorlatinib. A growing understanding of the biology and spectrum of these mechanisms of resistance has already begun to inform the development of more effective therapeutic strategies. In this Review, we discuss the development of third-generation EGFR and ALK inhibitors, predominant mechanisms of resistance, and approaches to tackling resistance in the clinic, ranging from novel fourth-generation TKIs to combination regimens and other investigational therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / drug therapy
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Mutation
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors* / therapeutic use


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors