The BCL-2 family of proteins, including anti-apoptotic members BCL-2, BCL-XL and MCL-1, are part of a complex network that controls apoptosis. BH3-mimetics such as ABT-263 inhibit anti-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins and have been developed as potential cancer therapeutics. Aurora Kinase A (AKA) is over-expressed in pancreatic cancer (PC) and controls G2-M transition during mitosis and AKA inhibitors have been developed that induce mitotic arrest. We hypothesized that mitotic arrest induced by AKA inhibition may sensitize PC to accelerated apoptosis by a BH3-mimetic. Our results demonstrated that ABT-263 plus MLN8237 treatment showed greater activity than either single drug alone, as well as strong synergism, in the inhibition of growth of pancreatic cell lines (AsPC-1, PANC-1, MIA PaCa-2, HPAF-II) and PC patient-derived organoids (PDOs). The higher efficacy of combination treatment was attributable to the higher levels of induction of apoptosis and reduction of MCL-1 in PC cells and PDOs. In addition, combination therapy was more effective than single drug in the suppression of tumor growth in AsPC-1 xenograft mouse models. Together, our findings suggest that combination therapy with ABT-263 and MLN8237 should be considered for further exploration as a novel treatment of deadly PC disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research