Development of cell-cycle checkpoint therapy for solid tumors

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Cellular proliferation is tightly controlled by several cell-cycle checkpoint proteins. In cancer, the genes encoding these proteins are often disrupted and cause unrestrained cancer growth. The proteins are over-expressed in many malignancies; thus, they are potential targets for anti-cancer therapies. These proteins include cyclin-dependent kinase, checkpoint kinase, WEE1 kinase, aurora kinase and polo-like kinase. Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors are the most advanced cell-cycle checkpoint therapeutics available. For instance, palbociclib (PD0332991) is a first-in-class, oral, highly selective inhibitor of CDK4/6 and, in combination with letrozole (Phase II; PALOMA-1) or with fulvestrant (Phase III; PALOMA-3), it has significantly prolonged progression-free survival, in patients with metastatic estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, in comparison with that observed in patients using letrozole, or fulvestrant alone, respectively. In this review, we provide an overview of the current compounds available for cell-cycle checkpoint protein-directed therapy for solid tumors.

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