New Era of CDK Targeting Gets Rolling in Oncology

Jane De Lartigue, PhD
Published: Thursday, Apr 02, 2020
In the oncology sphere, 2 members of the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) family have long stood out from the crowd. Serving as gatekeepers at the entry to the cell cycle, CDK4 and CDK6 make ideal therapeutic targets to block the unchecked proliferation that is a hallmark of cancer cells. Case in point: The FDA has approved 3 CDK4/6- targeted drugs for the treatment of a specific subtype of breast cancer.1


Figure. CDK Proteins in Action1,3 (Click to Enlarge)

Guardians of the Cell Cycle

CDK proteins derive their importance as an anticancer target from the vital role they play in the cell cycle. The cell cycle is divided into 5 phases: growth (G1 and G2 phases), DNA replication (S), mitosis (M), and quiescence (G0). Mitogenic stimulation triggers quiescent cells to enter the cell cycle, and progression from one phase to the next is tightly controlled by numerous proteins to ensure each step occurs at the appropriate time (Figure).1,3

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