Laboratory tests by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research in London have revealed that a kinase inhibitor known as AT13148 could have potential as a broad spectrum cancer drug.
The work, which was funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Clinical Cancer Research, showed that AT13148 worked like a 'master switch' in simultaneously blocking several different enzymes controlling cancer cell growth and cell death.
In addition, AT13148 was found to kill a number of different cancer cell types, including breast and prostate, raising hopes that it has the potential to be an effective new weapon against the disease, and could perhaps overcome some of the limitations seen with other kinase inhibitors that focus on just one target.
Commenting on its potential, Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, said "using one master switch to turn off the different faulty messages forcing cancer cells to keep growing could be an effective way to destroy tumours...[and]...could also reduce the chance of patients becoming resistant to treatment".
Lead study author Dr Michelle Garrett, team leader in the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit, confirmed that "these promising results have led to the decision to take the drug into patient trials".
The molecule was discovered by scientists on the PKB drug discovery programme, a collaboration between Astex Pharmaceuticals, Cancer Research Technology and The Institute of Cancer Research between 2003 and 2006.