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Tetracycline as anti-cancer agent & 2080 such US innovations wait for developers

Researchers in the US have demonstrated that the popular antibiotic tetracycline  is very effective in treating ovarian and colorectal cancers and are looking for partners to further develop and commercialized this new use 

By Narayanan Suresh

Researchers, Dr Christophe Marchand,  Dr Laurent Thibault and Dr Yves Pommier at the Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology at the National Cancer Institute in the US discovered the anti-cancer properties of tetracycline  while testing some of its compounds in a high throughput  screening system.

 After that, they have  got a US Patent  for some of the derivatives of tetracycline to be potent inhibitors of tyrosyl-DNA-phosphodietsterase (Tdp1).  Camptothecins are effective Topoisomerase I 9Top1) inhibitors and two derivatives, Topotecan and Camptosar are currently approved for treatment of ovarian and colorectal cancers.

 The researchers are now looking at partners from India and elsewhere in the world with the capability and interest to further develop, evaluate  or commercialize tetracycline derviatives, particularly optimizing them for therapeutic use.

 “ It is one of the 2,080 such inventions at top institutions like National Institutes of Health (NIH), Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the regulator FDA ( Food and Drugs Administration) available to the industry for further development,” said Mr Ajoy K Prabhu, head, marketing operations at the office of technology transfer at NIH in Rockville, Maryland, US in an exclusive communication with eN-ABLE.

 Added Mr Prabhu:” It is my mandate to make NIH, CDC and FDA resources available to the industry so that these can be used in R&D and ultimately lead to biomedical products and services across the globe”

 Tetracycline has strong Indian connection. It was widely used to control that plague that hit parts of Gujarat state in 1994. Tetracycline’s antibiotic properties were first discovered by Dr Benjamin Minge Duggar under the guidance of Dr Yellapragada Subbarow, in 1945 at Lederle Laboratories. After its regulatory approval, it was first prescribed as a broad spectrum antibiotic in 1948. Since then, tetracycline has become one of the world’s most widely used antibiotic medicine to treat a variety of bacterial infections.

According to the NCI researchers, tetracyclines have the potential to enhance the anti-neoplasitc  activity of Top1 inhibitors by reducing repair of Top1-DNA lesions through

Inhibition of Tdp1. Inhibition of Tdp1 may also reduce repair of DNA breaks and increase the rate of apoptosis in cancer cells, making them potential anti-cancer agents on their own.

 Mr Prabhu said: “Generally company executives outside the US are not aware that technologies and materials developed at NIH, CDC and FDA are available for licensing worldwide with nominal licensing fees for any company in the world.”

 Currently, some 2080 such inventions are available for licensing to any one interested. The full list is available at

Just a sample of most recent listings:

  Synthetic Human-Derived Peptides and Peptidomimetics for Cancer Therapeutics

   Ref: E-278-2015/0 | Updated: Aug 8, 2016 | NCI

 Human Monoclonal Antibodies Targeting Glypican-2 in Neuroblastoma

   Ref: E-211-2016/0 | Updated: Aug 8, 2016 | NCI

Conserved Element Vaccines for HIV

   Ref: E-087-2015/0 | Updated: Aug 8, 2016 | NCI

Novel Metastatic Serous Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (SEOC) Mouse Models, Cell Lines, and Orthotopic Models Useful for...

   Ref: E-069-2012/0 | Updated: Jul 26, 2016 | NCI

Shark Antibodies that Target Tumor and Viral Antigens

   Ref: E-113-2016/0 | Updated: Jul 7, 2016 | NCI

Improved Fixative for Paraffin-Embedded Tissue Samples

   Ref: E-139-2015/0 | Updated: Jul 7, 2016 | NCI

T Cell-Based Adoptive Transfer Immunotherapy for Polyomavirus-Associated Pathologies

   Ref: E-166-2014/0 | Updated: Jun 29, 2016 | NCI

 All these listing have key details, names of the inventors and contact information. Mr Prabhu is also keen to assist Indian companies interested to access any of these technologies.

( The writer is Chief Operating Officer of ABLE)