Protein Kinase Family May Offer Cancer Drug Target

PKN proteins are gaining recognition as drug targets for cancer research.

A group of enzymes were found to play a pivotal role in embryo development, which presents a possible target for cancer drugs.

A family of protein kinases (PKN 1-3), which have a hand in birth defects, were inactivated in mice during a recent study. However, it was only PKN2 that seemed to play an important role.

Since this kinase family is understudied, investigators believe that PKN has been both largely and incorrectly attributed to other kinase families.

Meanwhile, PKN proteins are gaining recognition as drug targets for cancer. Currently researchers are testing whether these proteins could be a drug target in pancreatic and breast cancer.

"It is often the case that proteins such as these are essential in development but not in adulthood,” said researcher Angus Cameron, MD. “Indeed, we've shown that there's a limited need for this entire class of targets in adult mice. This is a positive sign for drug development against this family of proteins, where its members have been high jacked in cancer."