Early clinical studies with anti-mitotic agents


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Johann de Bono

The Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, UK

Abstract

Targeting mitosis has arguably been the most successful strategy in cancer medicine with the broad utilisation and commercial success of tubulin binding drugs including the taxanes and vinca alkaloids. The development of novel anti-mitotics with enhanced anti-tumour activity, decreased toxicity and improved pharmacological properties has been a major focus of many scientists, clinical investigators and industry partners.

Despite this there has been very limited, meaningful, clinical advances to this class of anticancer drugs in the last decade. Multiple drugs targeting mitotic kinases including the Aurora kinases, Polo-like kinases and the kinesin motor protein KSP have been evaluated. Many challenges remain including inducing tumour cell death rather than cell cycle arrest, and identifying a basis for selective tumour cell kill yet sparing normal cycling cells.

The future of the development of this class of drugs will be discussed.

Declaration of competing interest for Johann De Bono: The Institute of Cancer Research has a commercial interest in developing anti-mitotic anticancer drugs.