Combination Therapies for Prostate and Breast Cancer with Abiraterone and Inhibitors of Polo-like Kinase 1

Technology #16690

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Professor Michael Yaffe
Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT
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Jesse Patterson
Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT
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Tod Woolf
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Combination Therapies and Methods of Use Thereof for Treating Cancer

US Patent 9,566,280


This technology may be used for the treatment of cancers, especially castrate-resistant prostate cancer and other hormonally driven cancers.

Problem Addressed

Prostate cancer, the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer and second leading cancer-related cause of death in men, has long been associated with androgen signaling through the androgen receptor (AR). Although androgen receptor (AR), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily. Although androgen-depletion therapy is effective, patients commonly develop androgen-independent or castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) upon treatment, and alternative treatment strategies have been largely unsuccessful. This invention is a combination therapy for CRPC and any other cancer characterized by AR overexpression including AR positive breast cancers. This therapy is also effective on multiple non-hormonal cancers such as pancreatic cancers that appear to rely on signaling by other nuclear receptors.    


The combination of Abiraterone, an antiandrogen sold by Johnson & Johnson, with a polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) inhibitor such as BI2356, substantially reduces cancer cell proliferation and viability of some cancer cells beyond any expectations from an additive model of drug interaction. The use of a Plk1 inhibitor can improve the initial efficacy of Abiraterone, or re-sensitize CRPC cells that have become resistant to Abiraterone.  Moreover, the addition of a Plk1 inhibitor can render abiraterone-insensitive cancer cells of disparate origin sensitive to this drug in a manner that correlates with signaling by other nuclear receptors.


  • Increases initial efficacy of, and can re-sensitizes cancer cells to, Abiraterone based therapy
  • Extend the utility of Abiraterone beyond prostate cancer using gene expression as a stratification biomarker