Aurora kinase inhibitors, such as alisertib, can destabilize MYC-family oncoproteins and have demonstrated compelling antitumor efficacy. In this study, we report 6K465, a novel pyrimidine-based Aurora A inhibitor, that reduces levels of c-MYC and N-MYC oncoproteins more potently than alisertib. In an analysis of the antiproliferative effect of 6K465, the sensitivities of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and breast cancer cell lines to 6K465 were strongly associated with the protein levels of c-MYC and/or N-MYC. We also report DBPR728, an acyl-based prodrug of 6K465 bearing fewer hydrogen-bond donors, that exhibited 10-fold improved oral bioavailability. DBPR728 induced durable tumor regression of c-MYC- and/or N-MYC-overexpressing xenografts including SCLC, triple-negative breast cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, and medulloblastoma using a 5-on-2-off or once-a-week dosing regimen on a 21-day cycle. A single oral dose of DBPR728 at 300 mg/kg induced c-MYC reduction and cell apoptosis in the tumor xenografts for more than 7 days. The inhibitory effect of DBPR728 at a reduced dosing frequency was attributed to its uniquely high tumor/plasma ratio (3.6-fold within 7 days) and the long tumor half-life of active moiety 6K465. Furthermore, DBPR728 was found to synergize with the mTOR inhibitor everolimus to suppress c-MYC- or N-MYC-driven SCLC. Collectively, these results suggest DBPR728 has the potential to treat cancers overexpressing c-MYC and/or N-MYC.

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