Tumor cells upregulate many cell signaling pathways, with AKT being one of the key kinases to be activated in a variety of malignancies. GSK2110183 and GSK2141795 are orally bioavailable, potent inhibitors of the AKT kinases that have progressed to human clinical studies. Both compounds are selective, ATP-competitive inhibitors of AKT 1, 2 and 3. Cells treated with either compound show decreased phosphorylation of several substrates downstream of AKT. Both compounds have desirable pharmaceutical properties and daily oral dosing results in a sustained inhibition of AKT activity as well as inhibition of tumor growth in several mouse tumor models of various histologic origins. Improved kinase selectivity was associated with reduced effects on glucose homeostasis as compared to previously reported ATP-competitive AKT kinase inhibitors. In a diverse cell line proliferation screen, AKT inhibitors showed increased potency in cell lines with an activated AKT pathway (via PI3K/PTEN mutation or loss) while cell lines with activating mutations in the MAPK pathway (KRAS/BRAF) were less sensitive to AKT inhibition. Further investigation in mouse models of KRAS driven pancreatic cancer confirmed that combining the AKT inhibitor, GSK2141795 with a MEK inhibitor (GSK2110212; trametinib) resulted in an enhanced anti-tumor effect accompanied with greater reduction in phospho-S6 levels. Taken together these results support clinical evaluation of the AKT inhibitors in cancer, especially in combination with MEK inhibitor.
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