The search for new targeted therapies to improve the quality of life of patients with pancreatic cancer has taken about 30 years. Compounds that can inhibit the K-Ras4B oncoprotein signaling pathway have been sought. Taking into account that the interaction of KRas4B with PDE6δ is essential for its transport and subsequent activation in the plasma membrane, our working group identified and evaluated in vitro and in vivo small organic molecules that could act as molecular staples to stabilize the KRas4B/PDE6δ heterodimeric complex. From this group of molecules, 38 compounds with high interaction energies on the structure of the crystallized molecular complex were selected, indicating that they efficiently stabilized the molecular complex. In vitro evaluation of compounds called D14, C22, and C19 showed significant specific effects on the cell viability of pancreatic cancer cells (and not on normal cells), thus inducing death by apoptosis and significantly inhibiting the activation of the pathways, signaling AKT and ERK. In addition to these experimental findings, we were also able to detect that compounds D14 and C22 showed significant tumor growth inhibitory activity in pancreatic cancer cell-induced subcutaneous xenograft models.
Part of the book: Challenges in Pancreatic Cancer