Targeted therapy is the most preferred option for cancer treatment and a number of new targets are being discovered which target cancer specific receptors, AKT being one of them. Protein kinase B (PKB), also known as AKT, belongs to serine/threonine protein kinase superfamily. AKT has been validated as a potential target as it plays a central role in many types of cancer, and studies have proven that the AKT signaling cascade is frequently impaired in many types of cancer and, in some cases; it is associated with tumor aggressiveness.
Also, AKT/PI3K pathway is an important signal transduction pathway and it has been observed that PI3K is overexpressed in ovarian and cervical cancer, along with causing mutations associated with breast cancer, glioblastoma and gastric cancer. Since AKT pathway plays a critical role in regulation of cell’s apoptotic pathway and AKT/PI3K pathway, it is being studied extensively as a target for cancer therapy.
The AKT Inhibitors pipeline has a number of drugs under development but in spite of increasing knowledge regarding AKT functions and activation, no AKT inhibitor has yet been approved for oncologic use. All the major components of the AKT pathway which consists of PI3Ks, PDK1, AKT and mTOR, are the focus of research for targeted cancer therapy, however, till now a limited number of drugs has emerged from this approach.
Midostaurin by Novartis is in pivotal stage of development for FLT3-mutated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) which has shown good results and is expected to be the first AKT Inhibitor to be approved. Major companies like Genentech, Novartis, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline are in the race for AKT inhibitors development and are expected to enter the pivotal stage soon. No approved drugs and the vast potential of AKT Inhibitors are thus the major driving factors for AKT Inhibitors pipeline.