It is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), pancreatic cancer and several other types of cancer.
It is a reversible tyrosine kinase inhibitor, which acts on the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
Mechanism of action:
Erlotinib is an epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor (EGFR inhibitor).
The drug follows Iressa (gefitinib), which was the first drug of this type.
Erlotinib specifically targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase, which is highly expressed and occasionally mutated in various forms of cancer.
It binds in a reversible fashion to the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) binding site of the receptor.
For the signal to be transmitted, two EGFR molecules need to come together to form a homodimer.
These then use the molecule of ATP to trans-phosphorylate each other on tyrosine residues, which generates phosphotyrosine residues, recruiting the phosphotyrosine-binding proteins to EGFR to assemble protein complexes that transduce signal cascades to the nucleus or activate other cellular biochemical processes.
When erlotinib binds to EGFR, formation of phosphotyrosine residues in EGFR is not possible and the signal cascades are not initiated.
Before starting erlotinib treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.).
Certain medications can interfere with the levels/effects of erlotinib.
It is important your oncologist is aware of all medications.
Do not take aspirin, or products containing aspirin unless your doctor specifically permits this.