This is the lead molecule arising from our own Chk1 oncology research programme. Inhibitors of Chk1 are actively being developed by several organisations, including global pharmaceutical companies.
Vernalis is one of the world leaders in the fragment-based drug discovery techniques employed in a two-year-long research project into the Chk1 pathway. This is the lead molecule delivered by that project, and it took its place in our development pipeline in 2009.
- Lead molecule from in-house Chk1 research programme
- Entered development pipeline 2009
- Shown to be effective in pre-clinical tumour models
Chk1 inhibitors may improve the effects of some cytotoxic agents
Chk1 inhibitors have the potential to improve the effectiveness against cancer cells of a range of cytotoxic agents, such as gemcitabine and irinotecan. Chk1 inhibitors aim to exploit differences in “checkpoint” pathways between cancer and normal cells so that the cytotoxic agents become more lethal to cancer cells, without increasing their toxicity to normal cells. If this effect is proven, Chk1 inhibitors could prove effective in a wide range of solid tumours and haematological cancers.
Some cancer cells use the Chk1 pathway to increase cell survival by pausing DNA replication and allowing repair of the damaged DNA before completing cell division. Inhibition of Chk1 blocks this pathway, forcing cells to undergo cell division (mitosis) with substantial DNA damage that results in their death.
Our research aimed to identify product candidates that increase the anti-tumour efficacy of current cytotoxic agents without increasing their toxicity to non-cancerous tissues.
Because Chk1 inhibitors are used in conjunction with chemotherapy drugs, they can potentially be used to treat a broad range of tumour types including breast, prostate, colorectal and melanoma. They may also be used in haematological cancers such as leukaemia.
A range of pre-clinical studies confirm the theoretical effect of Chk1 inhibition. Pre-clinical proof of concept for this target has been established in human tumour xenograft models both with V158411 and with Chk1 inhibitors being developed by other parties.
Pre-clinical safety studies are complete.