Acalabrutinib (ACP-196): A Covalent Bruton Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor with a Differentiated Selectivity and In Vivo Potency Profile

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2017 Nov;363(2):240-252. doi: 10.1124/jpet.117.242909. Epub 2017 Sep 7.


Several small-molecule Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors are in development for B cell malignancies and autoimmune disorders, each characterized by distinct potency and selectivity patterns. Herein we describe the pharmacologic characterization of BTK inhibitor acalabrutinib [compound 1, ACP-196 (4-[8-amino-3-[(2S)-1-but-2-ynoylpyrrolidin-2-yl]imidazo[1,5-a]pyrazin-1-yl]-N-(2-pyridyl)benzamide)]. Acalabrutinib possesses a reactive butynamide group that binds covalently to Cys481 in BTK. Relative to the other BTK inhibitors described here, the reduced intrinsic reactivity of acalabrutinib helps to limit inhibition of off-target kinases having cysteine-mediated covalent binding potential. Acalabrutinib demonstrated higher biochemical and cellular selectivity than ibrutinib and spebrutinib (compounds 2 and 3, respectively). Importantly, off-target kinases, such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and interleukin 2-inducible T cell kinase (ITK), were not inhibited. Determination of the inhibitory potential of anti-immunoglobulin M-induced CD69 expression in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and whole blood demonstrated that acalabrutinib is a potent functional BTK inhibitor. In vivo evaluation in mice revealed that acalabrutinib is more potent than ibrutinib and spebrutinib. Preclinical and clinical studies showed that the level and duration of BTK occupancy correlates with in vivo efficacy. Evaluation of the pharmacokinetic properties of acalabrutinib in healthy adult volunteers demonstrated rapid absorption and fast elimination. In these healthy individuals, a single oral dose of 100 mg showed approximately 99% median target coverage at 3 and 12 hours and around 90% at 24 hours in peripheral B cells. In conclusion, acalabrutinib is a BTK inhibitor with key pharmacologic differentiators versus ibrutinib and spebrutinib and is currently being evaluated in clinical trials.

MeSH terms

  • Agammaglobulinaemia Tyrosine Kinase
  • Animals
  • Benzamides / chemistry
  • Benzamides / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / enzymology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / blood
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Pyrazines / chemistry
  • Pyrazines / pharmacology*


  • Benzamides
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyrazines
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Agammaglobulinaemia Tyrosine Kinase
  • BTK protein, human
  • Btk protein, mouse
  • acalabrutinib