A scientific paper, published in 2003 highlighted the potential success of targeting Aurora B, in the hope of developing a new class of drugs to inhibit this enzyme.
Aurora A and B are a type of enzyme known as protein kinases; they modify other proteins by chemically adding phosphate groups to them. In cancer, both these protein kinases are ‘over-expressed’.
At the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, researchers have been studying a chemical that blocks, or inhibits, the catalytic actions of Aurora B and it has effectively killed cancer cells in lab grown cultures. ‘The first compounds were designed to inhibit a related enzyme called Aurora A,’ said Dr Stephen Taylor, who leads the research team. ‘Our research has shown that inhibiting Aurora B is a far more successful method of killing cancer cells. We’ve been strongly encouraged by these latest results.’
The research - published in the Journal of Cell Science - will be of interest to many other scientists looking at Aurora inhibitors (currently over 10 companies are involved in Aurora cancer research).
Although effective, many current cancer drugs are toxic. However, early clinical trials of Aurora-B drug’s toxicity have shown mild but not major adverse effects to patients. The next stage of trials to test its effectiveness is likely to begin soon.
The first results from the Phase I clinical trials using Aurora inhibitors were presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology conference in Atlanta, in June