A substantial number of experimental and epidemiological studies support an important role for the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (PKB) pathway in the biology of human cancers. Components of this signaling cascade have been found to be deregulated in a wide range of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies, and extensive anti-cancer therapeutic programs are now devoted to the identification of agents that specifically block this molecular pathway. This article focuses on the current knowledge of the alterations of the PI3K/PKB pathway in cancer cells and ongoing drug discovery efforts to therapeutically target it. Particular emphasis is placed on medicinal chemistry activities to identify and develop compounds able to modulate the kinase activity of its main molecular components.
Keywords: kinase inhibitors, apoptosis, targeted therapy, experimental therapeutics, lipid kinase, serine/threonine kinase, cell survival
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