The discovery of the role of the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway in melanomagenesis and its progression have opened a new era in the treatment of this tumor. Vemurafenib was the first specific kinase inhibitor approved for therapy of advanced melanomas harboring BRAF-activating mutations, followed by dabrafenib and encorafenib. However, despite the excellent results of first-generation kinase inhibitors in terms of response rate, the average duration of the response was short, due to the onset of genetic and epigenetic resistance mechanisms. The combination therapy with MEK inhibitors is an excellent strategy to circumvent drug resistance, with the additional advantage of reducing side effects due to the paradoxical reactivation of the MAPK pathway. The recent development of RAS and extracellular signal-related kinases (ERK) inhibitors promises to add new players for the ultimate suppression of this signaling pathway and the control of pathway-related drug resistance. In this review, we analyze the pharmacological, preclinical, and clinical trial data of the various MAPK pathway inhibitors, with a keen interest for their clinical applicability in the management of advanced melanoma.
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