Mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene have been identified in specimens from patients with non-small-cell lung cancer who have a response to anilinoquinazoline EGFR inhibitors. Despite the dramatic responses to such inhibitors, most patients ultimately have a relapse. The mechanism of the drug resistance is unknown. Here we report the case of a patient with EGFR-mutant, gefitinib-responsive, advanced non-small-cell lung cancer who had a relapse after two years of complete remission during treatment with gefitinib. The DNA sequence of the EGFR gene in his tumor biopsy specimen at relapse revealed the presence of a second point mutation, resulting in threonine-to-methionine amino acid change at position 790 of EGFR. Structural modeling and biochemical studies showed that this second mutation led to gefitinib resistance.
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