Background: Although cellular immunotherapy still remains in its infancy, it is one of the important treatment options against cancer. The marked improvement of its clinical efficacy requires a 'better' target antigen, which is well recognized by cancer-cell-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes. We have recently demonstrated the potential of Aurora-A kinase (Aurora-A) as such a 'better' target for cellular immunotherapy against human leukemia. Aurora-A is a member of the serine/threonine kinase family that properly regulates the cell division process, and has recently been implicated in tumorigenesis. On the other hand, small-molecule inhibitors targeting Aurora-A have recently been developed and preliminary but promising observations from Phase I clinical trials have been reported. These facts highlight the attractiveness of Aurora-A as an important target of comprehensive cancer therapies.
Objective/methods: In this review, we cover Aurora-A in the areas of immunotherapy and small-molecule inhibitor therapy against cancers.
Results/conclusions: Aurora-A kinase is an attractive molecule not only as a target for small-molecule inhibitors, but also as a potential target for immunotherapy against cancer.