Background: Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) are considered the most aggressive type of breast cancer, for which no targeted therapy exists at the moment. These tumors are characterized by having a high degree of chromosome instability and often overexpress the spindle assembly checkpoint kinase TTK. To explore the potential of TTK inhibition as a targeted therapy in TNBC, we developed a highly potent and selective small molecule inhibitor of TTK, NTRC 0066-0.
Results and conclusions: The compound is characterized by long residence time on the target and inhibits the proliferation of a wide variety of human cancer cell lines with potency in the same range as marketed cytotoxic agents. In cell lines and in mice, NTRC 0066-0 inhibits the phosphorylation of a TTK substrate and induces chromosome missegregation. NTRC 0066-0 inhibits tumor growth in MDA-MB-231 xenografts as a single agent after oral application. To address the effect of the inhibitor in breast cancer, we used a well-defined mouse model that spontaneously develops breast tumors that share key morphologic and molecular features with human TNBC. Our studies show that combination of NTRC 0066-0 with a therapeutic dose of docetaxel resulted in doubling of mouse survival and extended tumor remission, without toxicity. Furthermore, we observed that treatment efficacy is only achieved upon co-administration of the two compounds, which suggests a synergistic in vivo effect. Therefore, we propose TTK inhibition as a novel therapeutic target for neoadjuvant therapy in TNBC.
Keywords: TTK/Mps1 kinase inhibitor; chromosome missegregation; docetaxel; increased survival; triple-negative breast cancer.
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