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What is the mechanism of action for Alecensa (alectinib)?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Feb 20, 2023.

Official answer


Alecensa (alectinib) is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) that works specifically on a protein called anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK protein). Tyrosine kinases (TK) help to determine processes such as growth, differentiation, metabolism, and cell death, and are involved in signaling pathways – these are pathways that control and regulate the flow of information between cells and their outside environment. Research has linked abnormal TK activity or mutations to various cancers – one of these is non-small cell lung cancer. Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) mutations are present in approximately 5% of NSCLC cases, and by inhibiting this protein, Alecensa reduces the growth of ALK-positive metastatic NSCLC. Alecensa is only used in metastatic NSCLC that has been tested and confirmed to be ALK-positive.

  • Beardslee, T., & Lawson, J. (2018). Alectinib and Brigatinib: New Second-Generation ALK Inhibitors for the Treatment of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Journal of the advanced practitioner in oncology, 9(1), 94–101.
  • Alecensa Medication Information:
  • Alecensa Health Professional Information:
  • Alectinib: a review of its use in advanced ALK-rearranged non-small cell lung cancer:

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