Phenotypic Screening Approaches to Develop Aurora Kinase Inhibitors: Drug Discovery Perspectives.

Carlos Marugán, Raquel Torres, María José Lallena,

Frontiers in oncology, January 18, 2016

Targeting mitotic regulators as a strategy to fight cancer implies the development of drugs against key proteins, such as Aurora-A and -B. Current drugs, which target mitosis through a general mechanism of action (stabilization/destabilization of microtubules), have several side effects (neutropenia, alopecia, and emesis). Pharmaceutical companies aim at avoiding these unwanted effects by generating improved and selective drugs that increase the quality of life of the patients. However, the development of these drugs is an ambitious task that involves testing thousands of compounds through biochemical and cell-based assays. In addition, molecules usually target complex biological processes, involving several proteins and different molecular pathways, further emphasizing the need for high-throughput screening techniques and multiplexing technologies in order to identify drugs with the desired phenotype. We will briefly describe two multiplexing technologies [high-content imaging (HCI) and flow cytometry] and two key processes for drug discovery research (assay development and validation) following our own published industry quality standards. We will further focus on HCI as a useful tool for phenotypic screening and will provide a concrete example of HCI assay to detect Aurora-A or -B selective inhibitors discriminating the off-target effects related to the inhibition of other cell cycle or non-cell cycle key regulators. Finally, we will describe other assays that can help to characterize the in vitro pharmacology of the inhibitors.

Pubmed Link: 26779442

Full-text Link: PMC4703775

DOI: 10.3389/fonc.2015.00299