Amino Acid Import Inhibitors as Antiproliferative Agents

Technology #33949

New compounds that focus on depriving cells of key nutrients may be useful as anticancer and anti-infective agents.

Researchers at UCF and the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies have identified new compounds to inhibit the growth of human cancers and parasitic infections through nutrient deprivation. The compounds inhibit the import of large neutral amino acids such as leucine and methionine.

Technical Details

Researchers screened molecular libraries from the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies for polyamine transport inhibition and cytotoxicity. The compounds were screened for the ability to inhibit the uptake of methionine and leucine. A lead compound was shown to reduce the intracellular levels of methionine which led to decreased intracellular levels of the polyamines spermidine and spermine, which are essential growth factors. Treatment with the compound inhibited the cell growth of a metastatic human pancreatic cancer cell line.

Partnering Opportunity

The research team is looking for partners to further develop the technology for commercialization.

Stage of Development

Effectiveness demonstrated on the pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cell line in vitro.


  • Potentially more potent than current LAT1 (L-type neutral amino acid transporter) inhibitors
  • Compounds are hydrophobic, which could further facilitate their uptake
  • Potential advantage over DFMO cancer drug; efficacy is not reversed by polyamine import


  • Nutrient deprivation therapies to fight cancer
  • Anti-infectives to treat parasitic diseases that rely on amino acid import

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