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1.  An allosteric Akt inhibitor effectively blocks Akt signaling and tumor growth with only transient effects on glucose and insulin levels in vivo 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(7):493-503.
The PI3K-Akt pathway is dysregulated in the majority of solid tumors. Pharmacological inhibition of Akt is a promising strategy for treating tumors resistant to growth factor receptor antagonists due to mutations in PI3K or PTEN. We have developed allosteric, isozyme-specific inhibitors of Akt activity and activation, as well as ex vivo kinase assays to measure inhibition of individual Akt isozymes in tissues. Here we describe the relationship between PK, Akt inhibition, hyperglycemia and tumor efficacy for a selective inhibitor of Akt1 and Akt2 (AKTi). In nude mice, AKTi treatment caused transient insulin resistance and reversible, dose-dependent hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. Akt1 and Akt2 phosphorylation was inhibited in mouse lung with EC50 values of 1.6 and 7 μM, respectively, and with similar potency in other tissues and xenograft tumors. Weekly subcutaneous dosing of AKTi resulted in dose-dependent inhibition of LNCaP prostate cancer xenografts, an AR-dependent tumor with PTEN deletion and constitutively activated Akt. Complete tumor growth inhibition was achieved at 200 mpk, a dose that maintained inhibition of Akt1 and Akt2 of greater than 80% and 50%, respectively, for at least 12 hours in xenograft tumor and mouse lung. Hyperglycemia could be controlled by reducing Cmax, while maintaining efficacy in the LNCaP model, but not by insulin administration. AKTi treatment was well tolerated, without weight loss or gross toxicities. These studies supported the rationale for clinical development of allosteric Akt inhibitors and provide the basis for further refining of pharmacokinetic properties and dosing regimens of this class of inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2987445  PMID: 20139722
Akt; inhibitor; isozyme-specific; pharmacodynamics; hyperglycemia
2.  Characterization of Notch1 Antibodies That Inhibit Signaling of Both Normal and Mutated Notch1 Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9094.
Notch receptors normally play a key role in guiding a variety of cell fate decisions during development and differentiation of metazoan organisms. On the other hand, dysregulation of Notch1 signaling is associated with many different types of cancer as well as tumor angiogenesis, making Notch1 a potential therapeutic target.
Principal Findings
Here we report the in vitro activities of inhibitory Notch1 monoclonal antibodies derived from cell-based and solid-phase screening of a phage display library. Two classes of antibodies were found, one directed against the EGF-repeat region that encompasses the ligand-binding domain (LBD), and the second directed against the activation switch of the receptor, the Notch negative regulatory region (NRR). The antibodies are selective for Notch1, inhibiting Jag2-dependent signaling by Notch1 but not by Notch 2 and 3 in reporter gene assays, with EC50 values as low as 5±3 nM and 0.13±0.09 nM for the LBD and NRR antibodies, respectively, and fail to recognize Notch4. While more potent, NRR antibodies are incomplete antagonists of Notch1 signaling. The antagonistic activity of LBD, but not NRR, antibodies is strongly dependent on the activating ligand. Both LBD and NRR antibodies bind to Notch1 on human tumor cell lines and inhibit the expression of sentinel Notch target genes, including HES1, HES5, and DTX1. NRR antibodies also strongly inhibit ligand-independent signaling in heterologous cells transiently expressing Notch1 receptors with diverse NRR “class I” point mutations, the most common type of mutation found in human T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). In contrast, NRR antibodies failed to antagonize Notch1 receptors bearing rare “class II” or “class III” mutations, in which amino acid insertions generate a duplicated or constitutively sensitive metalloprotease cleavage site. Signaling in T-ALL cell lines bearing class I mutations is partially refractory to inhibitory antibodies as compared to cell-penetrating gamma-secretase inhibitors.
Antibodies that compete with Notch1 ligand binding or that bind to the negative regulatory region can act as potent inhibitors of Notch1 signaling. These antibodies may have clinical utility for conditions in which inhibition of signaling by wild-type Notch1 is desired, but are likely to be of limited value for treatment of T-ALLs associated with aberrant Notch1 activation.
PMCID: PMC2817004  PMID: 20161710
3.  Breast Tumor Cells with PI3K Mutation or HER2 Amplification Are Selectively Addicted to Akt Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(8):e3065.
Dysregulated PI3K/Akt signaling occurs commonly in breast cancers and is due to HER2 amplification, PI3K mutation or PTEN inactivation. The objective of this study was to determine the role of Akt activation in breast cancer as a function of mechanism of activation and whether inhibition of Akt signaling is a feasible approach to therapy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A selective allosteric inhibitor of Akt kinase was used to interrogate a panel of breast cancer cell lines characterized for genetic lesions that activate PI3K/Akt signaling: HER2 amplification or PI3K or PTEN mutations in order to determine the biochemical and biologic consequences of inhibition of this pathway. A variety of molecular techniques and tissue culture and in vivo xenograft models revealed that tumors with mutational activation of Akt signaling were selectively dependent on the pathway. In sensitive cells, pathway inhibition resulted in D-cyclin loss, G1 arrest and induction of apoptosis, whereas cells without pathway activation were unaffected. Most importantly, the drug effectively inhibited Akt kinase and its downstream effectors in vivo and caused complete suppression of the growth of breast cancer xenografts with PI3K mutation or HER2 amplification, including models of the latter selected for resistance to Herceptin. Furthermore, chronic administration of the drug was well-tolerated, causing only transient hyperglycemia without gross toxicity to the host despite the pleiotropic normal functions of Akt.
These data demonstrate that breast cancers with PI3K mutation or HER2 amplification are selectively dependent on Akt signaling, and that effective inhibition of Akt in tumors is feasible and effective in vivo. These findings suggest that direct inhibition of Akt may represent a therapeutic strategy for breast and other cancers that are addicted to the pathway including tumors with resistant to Herceptin.
PMCID: PMC2516933  PMID: 18725974

Results 1-3 (3)