There is considerable evidence that sphingosine kinases play a key role in cancer progression, which might involve positive selection of cancer cells that have been provided with a survival and growth advantage as a consequence of overexpression of the enzyme. Therefore, inhibitors of sphingosine kinase represent a novel class of compounds that have potential as anticancer agents. Poor inhibitor potency is a major issue that has precluded successful translation of these compounds into the clinic. However, recent discoveries have shown that sphingosine kinase 1 is an allosteric enzyme and that some inhibitors offer improved effectiveness by inducing proteasomal degradation of the enzyme or having nanomolar potency. Herein, we provide a perspective about these recent developments and highlight the importance of translating basic pharmacologic and biochemical findings on sphingosine kinase into new drug discovery programs for treatment of cancer. Cancer Res; 71(21); 6576–82. ©2011 AACR.
- Received July 20, 2011.
- Revision received August 31, 2011.
- Accepted September 5, 2011.
- ©2011 American Association for Cancer Research.