p38_InTh aims at improving the potency of a new class of highly specific p38 pathway inhibitors and validate their potential therapeutic use to ameliorate chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity without affecting the cancer cell toxicity of the chemotherapeutic. Chemotherapeutics used for cancer treatments have serious side effects, both the most broad-spectrum ones (such as anthracyclines) and the directed ones (such as trastuzumab). In particular, the cardiotoxicity is a major issue associated to chemotherapy. Cardiooncology research has recently emerged to tackle this serious unmet medical need. The cardiotoxicity induced by chemotherapeutics includes from arrhythmia to heart failure. To mitigate it, cardiooncologists usually adjust the treatment with reduced doses for a longer period, but this makes the anticancer treatments less efficient and consequently reduces the quality of life of the patients. There is evidence that cardiomyocyte death induced by anthracyclines involves activation of a specific p38 pathway, suggesting that inhibition of this pathway may reduce the cardiotoxicity associated with chemotherapeutics. Over the last two decades, many p38 pathway inhibitors have been developed by industry. However, these are mostly ATP competitors and have shown disappointing results in clinical trials. In contrast, we have recently identified novel compounds that inhibit only one of the target isoforms and through a novel MoA, selectively antagonizing the activation of this isoform by one of its protein partners. We propose to improve the potency of these hits and validate their potential therapeutic use to ameliorate chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity without affecting the cancer cell toxicity. Importantly, our new drug would inhibit only a subset of the p38 pathway regulated functions, which is expected to result in increased specificity, thereby overcoming the undesired side-effects found in clinical trials for the classical ATP competitive p38 pathway inhibitors.
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