Novel drug kills tumor cells via arginine deprivation
September 2014
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DAVIS, Calif.—Researchers from the University of California, Davis; City of Hope; and Taipei Medical University and the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan have discovered the mechanism of action of the novel cancer drug ADI-PEG20, developed by Polaris Pharmaceuticals. ADI-PEG20 kills cancer cells by degrading arginine—an essential amino acid that is pivotal in cell division, immune function and hormone regulation—and breaking it down. The researchers found that arginine deprivation kills tumor cells via a mechanism involving mitochondria dysfunction, reactive oxygen species generation, nuclear DNA leakage and chromatin autophagy.
“An emerging strategy is to ‘starve’ cancer cells to death, taking advantage of the different metabolic requirements of normal and cancer cells,” said Dr. Hsing-Jien Kung, head of the National Health Research Institutes and a lead author of the study. “This approach is generally milder, but as this study illustrates, it also utilizes a different death mechanism, which may complement the killing effects of the conventional therapy.”

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