The potential role of Aurora kinase inhibitors in haematological malignancies

Br J Haematol. 2011 Dec;155(5):561-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2011.08898.x. Epub 2011 Oct 8.


Aurora kinases play an important role in the control of the cell cycle and have been implicated in tumourigenesis in a number of cancers. Among the haematological malignancies, overexpression of Aurora kinases has been reported in acute myeloid leukaemia, chronic myeloid leukaemia, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, multiple myeloma, aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. A large number of Aurora kinase inhibitors are currently in different stages of clinical development. In addition to varying in their selectivity for the different Aurora kinases, some also have activity directed at other cellular kinases involved in important molecular pathways in cancer cells. This review summarizes the biology of Aurora kinases and discusses why they may be good therapeutic targets in different haematological cancers. We describe preclinical data that has served as the rationale for investigating Aurora kinase inhibitors in different haematological malignancies, and summarize published results from early phase clinical trials. While the anti-tumour effects of Aurora kinase inhibitors appear promising, we highlight important issues for future clinical research and suggest that the optimal use of these inhibitors is likely to be in combination with cytotoxic agents already in use for the treatment of various haematological cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Humans
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases