Introduction: Mitosis is a key step in the cell cycle and is controlled by several cell cycle regulators, including aurora kinases. Aurora family members A, B and C are essential for spindle assembly, centrosome maturation, chromosomal segregation and cytokinesis. Overexpression/amplification of aurora kinases has been implicated in oncogenic transformation, including the development of chromosomal instability in cancer cells. Hence, the use of aurora kinase small molecule inhibitors as a potential molecular-targeted therapeutic intervention for cancer is being pursued by various researchers. Area covered: This review provides an update on aurora kinase inhibitors based on developments from 2009 to 2010. The medicinal chemistry aspects of aurora kinase inhibitors, with a particular emphasis on the patent literature, are reviewed. Databases such as PubMed, SCOPUS, Scifinder and www.clinicaltrials.gov database were used to search for literature in the preparation of this review. Expert opinion: Around a dozen aurora kinase inhibitors are currently undergoing various Phase I - II evaluations for different human cancers. Instead of being applied as a monotherapy, combinations of aurora kinase inhibitors and existing chemotherapeutic compounds seem to give better therapeutic outcomes and are, therefore, a promising future cancer therapy.
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