Inhibition of PKN1 As Therapy For Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

Our researchers have developed a new strategy to overcome the drug resistance often faced during the treatment of CLL by inhibiting the TNFR family signalling through inhibition of a kinase, PKN1, which is involved in TRAF1 regulation. TRAF1 is overexpressed in 48% of B cell related cancers with highest expression in mature B cell lymphomas and the most refractory B-CLL. Thus targeting TRAF1 in human CLL has the potential to improve the disease outcome. Non-coding single nucleotide polymorphisms in TRAF1 have also been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They have identified PKN1 inhibitors and shown in proof of principal studies that inhibiting PKN1 lowers TRAF1 levels and survival of CLL cells. They have also successfully tested & shown that the PKN1 inhibitors can work in synergy with standard of care drug as further validation for PKN1 as a target in CLL.


Chronic lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is the most common human leukemia with 20,720 new cases and 3930 deaths expected in the US in 2019 ( CLL is considered to be largely a disease of the lymph node and bone marrow, where B-CLL cells receive survival signals, including tonic signals through their antigen specific B cell receptor (BCR). Several promising new therapies for CLL target BCR signaling or cell survival, including the phosphatidyl inositol-3-kinase inhibitor idelalisib, the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor ibrutinib, as well as the Bcl-2 antagonist venetoclax. While these treatments are showing great promise, responses are not always durable and when relapse occurs there are limited treatment options available.


  • PKN1 identified as a new target for inhibition in CLL
  • First generation PKN1 inhibitor, along with a companion biomarker identified
  • Proof of Principle combination therapy with standard of care cancer drug studies show enhanced cell death


IP - Provisional patent application filed May 2019

ID: P2123





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