Gefitinib (originally coded ZD1839) is a drug used in the treatment of certain types of cancer. Acting in a similar manner to erlotinib (marketed as Tarceva), gefitinib selectively targets the mutant proteins in malignant cells. It is marketed by AstraZeneca under the trade name Iressa. [Wikipedia]
For the continued treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer after failure of either platinum-based or docetaxel chemotherapies.
Gefitinib inhibits the intracellular phosphorylation of numerous tyrosine kinases associated with transmembrane cell surface receptors, including the tyrosine kinases associated with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR-TK). EGFR is expressed on the cell surface of many normal cells and cancer cells.
Mechanism of action
Gefitinib inhibits the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase by binding to the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-binding site of the enzyme. Thus the function of the EGFR tyrosine kinase in activating the Ras signal transduction cascade is inhibited; and malignant cells are inhibited. Gefitinib is the first selective inhibitor of the EGFR tyrosine kinase which is also referred to as Her1 or ErbB-1. EGFR is overexpressed in the cells of certain types of human carcinomas - for example in lung and breast cancers. Overexpression leads to inappropriate activation of the apoptotic Ras signal transduction cascade, eventually leading to uncontrolled cell proliferation.