From bench (laboratory) to bed (hospital/home): How to explore effective natural and synthetic PAK1-blockers/longevity-promoters for cancer therapy

Eur J Med Chem. 2017 Dec 15;142:229-243. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2017.07.043. Epub 2017 Aug 9.


PAK family kinases are RAC/CDC42-activated kinases that were first found in a soil amoeba 4 decades ago, and 2 decades later, were discovered in mammals as well. Since then at least 6 members of this family have been identified in mammals. One of them called PAK1 has been best studied so far, mainly because it is essential not only for malignant cell growth and metastasis, but also for many other diseases/disorders such as diabetes (type 2), AD (Alzheimer's disease), hypertension, and a variety of inflammatory or infectious diseases, which definitely shorten our lifespan. Moreover, PAK1-deficient mutant of C. elegans lives longer than the wild-type by 60%, clearly indicating that PAK1 is not only an oncogenic but also ageing kinase. Thus, in theory, both anti-oncogenic and longevity-promoting activities are among the "intrinsic" properties or criteria of "clinically useful" PAK1-blockers. There are a variety of PAK1-blocking natural products such as propolis and curcumin which indeed extend the healthy lifespan of small animals such as C. elegans by inducing the autophagy. Recently, we managed to synthesize a series of potent water-soluble and highly cell-permeable triazolyl esters of COOH-bearing PAK1-blockers such as Ketorolac, ARC (artepillin C) and CA (caffeic acid) via "Click Chemistry" that boosts their anti-cancer activity over 500-fold, mainly by increasing their cell-permeability, and one of them called 15K indeed extends the lifespan of C. elegans. In this mini-review we shall discuss both synthetic and natural PAK1-blockers, some of which would be potentially useful for cancer therapy with least side effect (rather promoting the longevity as well).

Keywords: C. elegans; Cancer; Click Chemistry; Longevity; PAK1; Propolis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Click Chemistry / methods
  • Drug Discovery / methods
  • Humans
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / chemical synthesis
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / chemistry*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • p21-Activated Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • p21-Activated Kinases / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • p21-Activated Kinases