Deregulated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway signaling through AGC kinases including AKT, p70S6 kinase, PKA, SGK and Rho kinase is a key driver of multiple cancers. The simultaneous inhibition of multiple AGC kinases may increase antitumor activity and minimize clinical resistance compared with a single pathway component.
A research team from the UK investigated the detailed pharmacology and antitumor activity of the novel clinical drug candidate AT13148, an oral ATP-competitive multi-AGC kinase inhibitor. Gene expression microarray studies were undertaken to characterize the molecular mechanisms of action of AT13148.
Their results show that AT13148 caused a substantial blockade of AKT, p70S6K, PKA, ROCK, and SGK substrate phosphorylation and induced apoptosis in a concentration and time-dependent manner in cancer cells with clinically relevant genetic defects in vitro and in vivo. Antitumor efficacy in HER2-positive, PIK3CA-mutant BT474 breast, PTEN-deficient PC3 human prostate cancer, and PTEN-deficient MES-SA uterine tumor xenografts was shown. These experiments demonstrate for the first time that induction of AKT phosphorylation at serine 473 by AT13148, as reported for other ATP-competitive inhibitors of AKT, is not the therapeutically relevant reactivation step. Gene expression studies showed that AT13148 has a predominant effect on apoptosis genes, whereas the selective AKT inhibitor CCT128930 modulates cell-cycle genes. Induction of upstream regulators including IRS2 and PIK3IP1 as a result of compensatory feedback loops was observed.
Thus, the clinical candidate AT13148 is a novel oral multi-AGC kinase inhibitor with potent pharmacodynamic and antitumor activity, which shows a distinct mechanism of action from other AKT inhibitors. AT13148 will now be assessed in a first-in-human phase I trial.