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Cancer Res. 2004 Jun 1;64(11):3958-65.

Antitumor activity of HKI-272, an orally active, irreversible inhibitor of the HER-2 tyrosine kinase.

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Department of Oncology, Wyeth Research, Pearl River, New York, USA.


HER-2 belongs to the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases, which has been implicated in a variety of cancers. Overexpression of HER-2 is seen in 25-30% of breast cancer patients and predicts a poor outcome in patients with primary disease. Trastuzumab (Herceptin), a monoclonal antibody to HER-2, is specifically approved for HER-2-positive breast cancer but is active only in a subset of these tumors. Blocking HER-2 function by a small molecule kinase inhibitor, therefore, represents an attractive alternate strategy to inhibit the growth of HER-2-positive tumors. HKI-272 is a potent inhibitor of HER-2 and is highly active against HER-2-overexpressing human breast cancer cell lines in vitro. It also inhibits the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) kinase and the proliferation of EGFR-dependent cells. HKI-272 reduces HER-2 receptor autophosphorylation in cells at doses consistent with inhibition of cell proliferation and functions as an irreversible binding inhibitor, most likely by targeting a cysteine residue in the ATP-binding pocket of the receptor. In agreement with the predicted effects of HER-2 inactivation, HKI-272 treatment of cells results in inhibition of downstream signal transduction events and cell cycle regulatory pathways. This leads to arrest at the G(1)-S (Gap 1/DNA synthesis)-phase transition of the cell division cycle, ultimately resulting in decreased cell proliferation. In vivo, HKI-272 is active in HER-2- and EGFR-dependent tumor xenograft models when dosed orally on a once daily schedule. On the basis of its favorable preclinical pharmacological profile, HKI-272 has been selected as a candidate for additional development as an antitumor agent in breast and other HER-2-dependent cancers.

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