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1.  Susceptibility of Dermatophytes to Thiabendazole Using CLSI Broth Macrodilution 
ISRN Dermatology  2012;2012:351842.
Objective. To evaluate in vitro antifungal activity of thiabendazole against strains of dermatophytes using a reference method for filamentous fungi. Materials and Methods. Dermatophytes' susceptibility to thiabendazole (TBZ) and fluconazole (FCZ) was evaluated using macrodilution method of protocol M38-A2 of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI). Results. MIC ranges of TBZ for all strains were narrower and/or smaller than those of FCZ. TBZ showed a significantly greater potency than FCZ (P = 0.05) against all isolates. Discussion. Although there have been approaches to evaluate the antifungal activity of TBZ in human mycoses, no tests had been made with a standardized protocol. Susceptibility data resulted from this study shows that although TBZ is not a particularly strong inhibitor of dermatophytes, it displays a stable and constant effect against all isolates tested. Conclusion. Results show that TBZ is more effective against strains of dermatophytes than FCZ. We acknowledge the antifungal effect of TBZ against dermatophyte isolates.
PMCID: PMC3449124  PMID: 23008781
2.  Cross-species discovery of syncretic drug combinations that potentiate the antifungal fluconazole 
The authors screen for compounds that show synergistic antifungal activity when combined with the widely-used fungistatic drug fluconazole. Chemogenomic profiling explains the mode of action of synergistic drugs and allows the prediction of additional drug synergies.
The authors screen for compounds that show synergistic antifungal activity when combined with the widely-used fungistatic drug fluconazole. Chemogenomic profiling explains the mode of action of synergistic drugs and allows the prediction of additional drug synergies.
Chemical screens with a library enriched for known drugs identified a diverse set of 148 compounds that potentiated the action of the antifungal drug fluconazole against the fungal pathogens Cryptococcus neoformans, Cryptococcus gattii and Candida albicans, and the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, often in a species-specific manner.Chemogenomic profiles of six confirmed hits in S. cerevisiae revealed different modes of action and enabled the prediction of additional synergistic combinations; three-way synergistic interactions exhibited even stronger synergies at low doses of fluconazole.The synergistic combination of fluconazole and the antidepressant sertraline was active against fluconazole-resistant clinical fungal isolates and in an in vivo model of Cryptococcal infection.
Rising fungal infection rates, especially among immune-suppressed individuals, represent a serious clinical challenge (Gullo, 2009). Cancer, organ transplant and HIV patients, for example, often succumb to opportunistic fungal pathogens. The limited repertoire of approved antifungal agents and emerging drug resistance in the clinic further complicate the effective treatment of systemic fungal infections. At the molecular level, the paucity of fungal-specific essential targets arises from the conserved nature of cellular functions from yeast to humans, as well as from the fact that many essential yeast genes can confer viability at a fraction of wild-type dosage (Yan et al, 2009). Although only ∼1100 of the ∼6000 genes in yeast are essential, almost all genes become essential in specific genetic backgrounds in which another non-essential gene has been deleted or otherwise attenuated, an effect termed synthetic lethality (Tong et al, 2001). Genome-scale surveys suggest that over 200 000 binary synthetic lethal gene combinations dominate the yeast genetic landscape (Costanzo et al, 2010). The genetic buffering phenomenon is also manifest as a plethora of differential chemical–genetic interactions in the presence of sublethal doses of bioactive compounds (Hillenmeyer et al, 2008). These observations frame the difficulty of interdicting network functions in eukaryotic pathogens with single agent therapeutics. At the same time, however, this genetic network organization suggests that judicious combinations of small molecule inhibitors of both essential and non-essential targets may elicit additive or synergistic effects on cell growth (Sharom et al, 2004; Lehar et al, 2008). Unbiased screens for drugs that synergistically enhance a specific bioactive effect, but which are not themselves individually active—termed a syncretic combination—are one means to substantially elaborate chemical space (Keith et al, 2005). Indeed, compounds that enhance the activity of known agents in model yeast and cancer cell line systems have been identified both by focused small molecule library screens and by computational methods (Borisy et al, 2003; Lehar et al, 2007; Nelander et al, 2008; Jansen et al, 2009; Zinner et al, 2009).
To extend the stratagem of chemical synthetic lethality to clinically relevant fungal pathogens, we screened a bioactive library of known drugs for synergistic enhancers of the widely used fungistatic drug fluconazole against the clinically relevant pathogens C. albicans, C. neoformans and C. gattii, as well as the genetically tractable budding yeast S. cerevisiae. Fluconazole is an azole drug that inhibits lanosterol 14α-demethylase, the gene product of ERG11, an essential cytochrome P450 enzyme in the ergosterol biosynthetic pathway (Groll et al, 1998). We identified 148 drugs that potentiate the antifungal action of fluconazole against the four species. These syncretic compounds had not been previously recognized in the clinic as antifungal agents, and many acted in a species-specific manner, often in a potent fungicidal manner.
To understand the mechanisms of synergism, we interrogated six syncretic drugs—trifluoperazine, tamoxifen, clomiphene, sertraline, suloctidil and L-cycloserine—in genome-wide chemogenomic profiles of the S. cerevisiae deletion strain collection (Giaever et al, 1999). These profiles revealed that membrane, vesicle trafficking and lipid biosynthesis pathways are targeted by five of the synergizers, whereas the sphingolipid biosynthesis pathway is targeted by L-cycloserine. Cell biological assays confirmed the predicted membrane disruption effects of the former group of compounds, which may perturb ergosterol metabolism, impair fluconazole export by drug efflux pumps and/or affect active import of fluconazole (Kuo et al, 2010; Mansfield et al, 2010). Based on the integration of chemical–genetic and genetic interaction space, a signature set of deletion strains that are sensitive to the membrane active synergizers correctly predicted additional drug synergies with fluconazole. Similarly, the L-cycloserine chemogenomic profile correctly predicted a synergistic interaction between fluconazole and myriocin, another inhibitor of sphingolipid biosynthesis. The structure of genetic networks suggests that it should be possible to devise higher order drug combinations with even greater selectivity and potency (Sharom et al, 2004). In an initial test of this concept, we found that the combination of a non-synergistic pair drawn from the membrane active and sphingolipid target classes exhibited potent three-way synergism with a low dose of fluconazole. Finally, the combination of sertraline and fluconazole was active in a G. mellonella model of Cryptococcal infection, and was also efficacious against fluconazole-resistant clinical isolates of C. albicans and C. glabrata.
Collectively, these results demonstrate that the combinatorial redeployment of known drugs defines a powerful antifungal strategy and establish a number of potential lead combinations for future clinical assessment.
Resistance to widely used fungistatic drugs, particularly to the ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitor fluconazole, threatens millions of immunocompromised patients susceptible to invasive fungal infections. The dense network structure of synthetic lethal genetic interactions in yeast suggests that combinatorial network inhibition may afford increased drug efficacy and specificity. We carried out systematic screens with a bioactive library enriched for off-patent drugs to identify compounds that potentiate fluconazole action in pathogenic Candida and Cryptococcus strains and the model yeast Saccharomyces. Many compounds exhibited species- or genus-specific synergism, and often improved fluconazole from fungistatic to fungicidal activity. Mode of action studies revealed two classes of synergistic compound, which either perturbed membrane permeability or inhibited sphingolipid biosynthesis. Synergistic drug interactions were rationalized by global genetic interaction networks and, notably, higher order drug combinations further potentiated the activity of fluconazole. Synergistic combinations were active against fluconazole-resistant clinical isolates and an in vivo model of Cryptococcus infection. The systematic repurposing of approved drugs against a spectrum of pathogens thus identifies network vulnerabilities that may be exploited to increase the activity and repertoire of antifungal agents.
PMCID: PMC3159983  PMID: 21694716
antifungal; combination; pathogen; resistance; synergism
3.  Regulation of Cell Polarity by Microtubules in Fission Yeast  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1998;142(2):457-471.
To investigate the role of microtubules in regulating cell polarity in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, we have developed a system in which normally cylindrical fission yeast synchronously form branched cells at high frequency upon treatment with the microtubule-depolymerizing drug thiabendazole (TBZ). Branching depends on both elevated temperature and cell cycle state and occurs at high frequency only when TBZ is added to cells that have not yet passed through New-End Take-Off (NETO), the normal transition from monopolar to bipolar growth. This suggests that microtubules may be of greatest physiological importance for the maintenance of cell shape at specific points in the cell cycle. The localization of three different proteins normally found at cell ends—cortical F-actin, tea1, and an ral3 (scd2)–green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion—is disrupted by TBZ treatment. However, these proteins can eventually return to cell ends in the absence of microtubules, indicating that although their localization to ends normally depends on microtubules, they may recover by alternative mechanisms. In addition, TBZ induces a shift in ral3–GFP distribution from cell ends to the cell middle, suggesting that a protein complex containing ral3 may be part of the cue that specifies the position of branch formation.
PMCID: PMC2133047  PMID: 9679144
S. pombe; microtubules; thiabendazole; actin; cell polarity
4.  Tetrabenazine is neuroprotective in Huntington's disease mice 
Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion in Huntingtin protein (Htt). PolyQ expansion in Httexp causes selective degeneration of striatal medium spiny neurons (MSN) in HD patients. A number of previous studies suggested that dopamine signaling plays an important role in HD pathogenesis. A specific inhibitor of vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2) tetrabenazine (TBZ) has been recently approved by Food and Drug Administration for treatment of HD patients in the USA. TBZ acts by reducing dopaminergic input to the striatum.
In previous studies we demonstrated that long-term feeding with TBZ (combined with L-Dopa) alleviated the motor deficits and reduced the striatal neuronal loss in the yeast artificial chromosome transgenic mouse model of HD (YAC128 mice). To further investigate a potential beneficial effects of TBZ for HD treatment, we here repeated TBZ evaluation in YAC128 mice starting TBZ treatment at 2 months of age ("early" TBZ group) and at 6 months of age ("late" TBZ group). In agreement with our previous studies, we found that both "early" and "late" TBZ treatments alleviated motor deficits and reduced striatal cell loss in YAC128 mice. In addition, we have been able to recapitulate and quantify depression-like symptoms in TBZ-treated mice, reminiscent of common side effects observed in HD patients taking TBZ.
Our results further support therapeutic value of TBZ for treatment of HD but also highlight the need to develop more specific dopamine antagonists which are less prone to side-effects.
PMCID: PMC2873255  PMID: 20420689
5.  CLSI broth microdilution method for testing susceptibility of Malassezia pachydermatis to thiabendazole 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2009;40(2):222-226.
Thiabendazole, classified as antiparasitic and also used as an antifungal drug, can be found as otological solution indicated for treatment of parasitic and fungal external otitis in small animals. Malassezia pachydermatis is a yeast recognized as a normal inhabitant on the skin and mucous membranes of dogs and cats. However, it is considered an opportunistic agent that causes external otitis and dermatitis in these animals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the in vitro effect of thiabendazole against 51 isolates of M. pachydermatis using the CLSI Broth Microdilution method that has been adapted for this yeast species (NCCLS, 2002). Based on this test, the Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations (MIC) of thiabendazol was calculated. Subsequently, the susceptibility of each isolate against this antifungal was determined. It was observed that the MIC of thiabendazole against M. pachydermatis ranged from 0.03 to > 4 µg/mL. A total of 13.7% of the isolates were found to be resistant, 47.1% were intermediate and 39.2% were sensitive to the drug. The rate of resistance of the yeasts against thiabendazole was similar to the results previously obtained with other antifungals, while the adapted broth microdilution technique used in this study proved to be efficient.
PMCID: PMC3769738  PMID: 24031347
Malassezia pachydermatis; Minimum Inhibitory Concentration; thiabendazole
6.  The EYA Tyrosine Phosphatase Activity Is Pro-Angiogenic and Is Inhibited by Benzbromarone 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34806.
Eyes Absents (EYA) are multifunctional proteins best known for their role in organogenesis. There is accumulating evidence that overexpression of EYAs in breast and ovarian cancers, and in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, correlates with tumor growth and increased metastasis. The EYA protein is both a transcriptional activator and a tyrosine phosphatase, and the tyrosine phosphatase activity promotes single cell motility of mammary epithelial cells. Since EYAs are expressed in vascular endothelial cells and cell motility is a critical feature of angiogenesis we investigated the role of EYAs in this process. Using RNA interference techniques we show that EYA3 depletion in human umbilical vein endothelial cells inhibits transwell migration as well as Matrigel-induced tube formation. To specifically query the role of the EYA tyrosine phosphatase activity we employed a chemical biology approach. Through an experimental screen the uricosuric agents Benzbromarone and Benzarone were found to be potent EYA inhibitors, and Benzarone in particular exhibited selectivity towards EYA versus a representative classical protein tyrosine phosphatase, PTP1B. These compounds inhibit the motility of mammary epithelial cells over-expressing EYA2 as well as the motility of endothelial cells. Furthermore, they attenuate tubulogenesis in matrigel and sprouting angiogenesis in the ex vivo aortic ring assay in a dose-dependent fashion. The anti-angiogenic effect of the inhibitors was also demonstrated in vivo, as treatment of zebrafish embryos led to significant and dose-dependent defects in the developing vasculature. Taken together our results demonstrate that the EYA tyrosine phosphatase activity is pro-angiogenic and that Benzbromarone and Benzarone are attractive candidates for repurposing as drugs for the treatment of cancer metastasis, tumor angiogenesis, and vasculopathies.
PMCID: PMC3335822  PMID: 22545090
7.  Multiparametric MRI biomarkers for measuring vascular disrupting effect on cancer 
World Journal of Radiology  2011;3(1):1-16.
Solid malignancies have to develop their own blood supply for their aggressive growth and metastasis; a process known as tumor angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is largely involved in tumor survival, progression and spread, which are known to be significantly attributed to treatment failures. Over the past decades, efforts have been made to understand the difference between normal and tumor vessels. It has been demonstrated that tumor vasculature is structurally immature with chaotic and leaky phenotypes, which provides opportunities for developing novel anticancer strategies. Targeting tumor vasculature is not only a unique therapeutic intervention to starve neoplastic cells, but also enhances the efficacy of conventional cancer treatments. Vascular disrupting agents (VDAs) have been developed to disrupt the already existing neovasculature in actively growing tumors, cause catastrophic vascular shutdown within short time, and induce secondary tumor necrosis. VDAs are cytostatic; they can only inhibit tumor growth, but not eradicate the tumor. This novel drug mechanism has urged us to develop multiparametric imaging biomarkers to monitor early hemodynamic alterations, cellular dysfunctions and metabolic impairments before tumor dimensional changes can be detected. In this article, we review the characteristics of tumor vessels, tubulin-destabilizing mechanisms of VDAs, and in vivo effects of the VDAs that have been mostly studied in preclinical studies and clinical trials. We also compare the different tumor models adopted in the preclinical studies on VDAs. Multiparametric imaging biomarkers, mainly diffusion-weighted imaging and dynamic contrast-enhanced imaging from magnetic resonance imaging, are evaluated for their potential as morphological and functional imaging biomarkers for monitoring therapeutic effects of VDAs.
PMCID: PMC3030722  PMID: 21286490
Vascular disrupting agents; Tumor vessels; Imaging biomarkers; Magnetic resonance imaging; Diffusion-weighted imaging; Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging
8.  Fission Yeast Pot1 and RecQ Helicase Are Required for Efficient Chromosome Segregation▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;31(3):495-506.
Pot1 is a single-stranded telomere-binding protein that is conserved from fission yeast to mammals. Deletion of Schizosaccharomyces pombe pot1+ causes immediate telomere loss. S. pombe Rqh1 is a homolog of the human RecQ helicase WRN, which plays essential roles in the maintenance of genomic stability. Here, we demonstrate that a pot1Δ rqh1-hd (helicase-dead) double mutant maintains telomeres that are dependent on Rad51-mediated homologous recombination. Interestingly, the pot1Δ rqh1-hd double mutant displays a “cut” (cell untimely torn) phenotype and is sensitive to the antimicrotubule drug thiabendazole (TBZ). Moreover, the chromosome ends of the double mutant do not enter the pulsed-field electrophoresis gel. These results suggest that the entangled chromosome ends in the pot1Δ rqh1-hd double mutant inhibit chromosome segregation, signifying that Pot1 and Rqh1 are required for efficient chromosome segregation. We also found that POT1 knockdown, WRN-deficient human cells are sensitive to the antimicrotubule drug vinblastine, implying that some of the functions of S. pombe Pot1 and Rqh1 may be conserved in their respective human counterparts POT1 and WRN.
PMCID: PMC3028624  PMID: 21098121
9.  Tetrabenazine in the treatment of Huntington’s disease 
Tetrabenazine (TBZ), a catecholamine-depleting agent initially developed for the treatment of schizophrenia, when tested for other indications, has proven to be more useful for the treatment of a variety of hyperkinetic movement disorders. These disorders include neurological diseases characterized by abnormal involuntary movements such as chorea associated with Huntington’s disease, tics in Tourette’s syndrome, dyskinesias and dystonias in tardive dyskinesia, also primary dystonias and myoclonus. This review will include and discuss studies published during the period of 1960–2006 regarding the clinical efficacy and tolerability of TBZ in Huntington’s disease (HD). It will also review the chemistry, pharmacokinetics and dynamics of the drug and its mechanism of action compared to that of reserpine, the only similar compound. This review emphasizes the advantage of TBZ over dopamine-depleting compounds used in the treatment of chorea and reveals its clinical efficacy and side effects.
PMCID: PMC2656291  PMID: 19381278
tetrabenazine; Huntington’s disease; chorea
10.  Rat Mesentery Angiogenesis Assay 
The adult rat mesentery window angiogenesis assay is biologically appropriate and is exceptionally well suited to the study of sprouting angiogenesis in vivo [see review papers], which is the dominating form of angiogenesis in human tumors and non-tumor tissues, as discussed in invited review papers1,2. Angiogenesis induced in the membranous mesenteric parts by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of a pro-angiogenic factor can be modulated by subcutaneous (s.c.), intravenous (i.v.) or oral (p.o.) treatment with modifying agents of choice. Each membranous part of the mesentery is translucent and framed by fatty tissue, giving it a window-like appearance.
The assay has the following advantageous features: (i) the test tissue is natively vascularized, albeit sparsely, and since it is extremely thin, the microvessel network is virtually two-dimensional, which allows the entire network to be assessed microscopically in situ; (ii) in adult rats the test tissue lacks significant physiologic angiogenesis, which characterizes most normal adult mammalian tissues; the degree of native vascularization is, however, correlated with age, as discussed in1; (iii) the negligible level of trauma-induced angiogenesis ensures high sensitivity; (iv) the assay replicates the clinical situation, as the angiogenesis-modulating test drugs are administered systemically and the responses observed reflect the net effect of all the metabolic, cellular, and molecular alterations induced by the treatment; (v) the assay allows assessments of objective, quantitative, unbiased variables of microvascular spatial extension, density, and network pattern formation, as well as of capillary sprouting, thereby enabling robust statistical analyses of the dose-effect and molecular structure-activity relationships; and (vi) the assay reveals with high sensitivity the toxic or harmful effects of treatments in terms of decreased rate of physiologic body-weight gain, as adult rats grow robustly.
Mast-cell-mediated angiogenesis was first demonstrated using this assay3,4. The model demonstrates a high level of discrimination regarding dosage-effect relationships and the measured effects of systemically administered chemically or functionally closely related drugs and proteins, including: (i) low-dosage, metronomically administered standard chemotherapeutics that yield diverse, drug-specific effects (i.e., angiogenesis-suppressive, neutral or angiogenesis-stimulating activities5); (ii) natural iron-unsaturated human lactoferrin, which stimulates VEGF-A-mediated angiogenesis6, and natural iron-unsaturated bovine lactoferrin, which inhibits VEGF-A-mediated angiogenesis7; and (iii) low-molecular-weight heparin fractions produced by various means8,9. Moreover, the assay is highly suited to studies of the combined effects on angiogenesis of agents that are administered systemically in a concurrent or sequential fashion.
The idea of making this video originated from the late Dr. Judah Folkman when he visited our laboratory and witnessed the methodology being demonstrated.
Review papers (invited) discussing and appraising the assay
Norrby, K. In vivo models of angiogenesis. J. Cell. Mol. Med. 10, 588-612 (2006).
Norrby, K. Drug testing with angiogenesis models. Expert Opin. Drug. Discov. 3, 533-549 (2008).
PMCID: PMC3121245  PMID: 21712799
11.  A Perspective on Vascular Disrupting Agents that Interact with Tubulin: Preclinical Tumor Imaging and Biological Assessment# 
The tumor microenvironment provides a rich source of potential targets for selective therapeutic intervention with properly designed anticancer agents. Significant physiological differences exist between the microvessels that nourish tumors and those that supply healthy tissue. Selective drug-mediated damage of these tortuous and chaotic microvessels starves a tumor of necessary nutrients and oxygen and eventually leads to massive tumor necrosis. Vascular targeting strategies in oncology are divided into two separate groups: angiogenesis inhibiting agents (AIAs) and vascular disrupting agents (VDAs). The mechanisms of action between these two classes of compounds are profoundly distinct. The AIAs inhibit the actual formation of new vessels, while the VDAs damage and/or destroy existing tumor vasculature. One subset of small-molecule VDAs functions by inhibiting the assembly of tubulin into microtubules, thus causing morphology changes to the endothelial cells lining the tumor vasculature, triggered by a cascade of cell signaling events. Ultimately this results in catastrophic damage to the vessels feeding the tumor. The rapid emergence and subsequent development of the VDA field over the past decade has led to the establishment of a synergistic combination of preclinical state-of-the-art tumor imaging and biological evaluation strategies that are often indicative of future clinical efficacy for a given VDA. This review focuses on an integration of the appropriate biochemical and biological tools necessary to assess (preclinically) new small-molecule, tubulin active VDAs for their potential to be clinically effective anticancer agents.
PMCID: PMC3071431  PMID: 21321746
12.  Brc1 links replication stress response and centromere function 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(11):1665-1671.
Protection of genome integrity depends on the coordinated activities of DNA replication, DNA repair, chromatin assembly and chromosome segregation mechanisms. DNA lesions are detected by the master checkpoint kinases ATM (Tel1) and ATR (Rad3/Mec1), which phosphorylate multiple substrates, including a C-terminal SQ motif in histone H2A or H2AX. The 6-BRCT domain protein Brc1, which is required for efficient recovery from replication fork arrest and collapse in fission yeast, binds phospho-histone H2A (γH2A)-coated chromatin at stalled and damaged replication forks. We recently found that Brc1 co-localizes with γH2A that appears in pericentromeric heterochromatin during S-phase. Our studies indicate that Brc1 contributes to the maintenance of pericentromeric heterochromatin, which is required for efficient chromosome segregation during mitosis. Here, we review these studies and present additional results that establish the functional requirements for the N-terminal BRCT domains of Brc1 in the replication stress response and resistance to the microtubule destabilizing drug thiabendazole (TBZ). We also identify the nuclear localization signal (NLS) in Brc1, which closely abuts the C-terminal pair of BRCT domains that form the γH2A-binding pocket. This compact arrangement of localization domains may be a shared feature of other γH2A-binding proteins, including Rtt107, PTIP and Mdc1.
PMCID: PMC3713124  PMID: 23656778
DNA damage response; replication stress; heterochromatin; centromere; BRCT domain; mitosis; nuclear localization signal
13.  A Novel Tumor-Promoting Function Residing in the 5′ Non-coding Region of vascular endothelial growth factor mRNA 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(5):e94.
Vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF) is one of the key regulators of tumor development, hence it is considered to be an important therapeutic target for cancer treatment. However, clinical trials have suggested that anti-VEGF monotherapy was less effective than standard chemotherapy. On the basis of the evidence, we hypothesized that vegf mRNA may have unrecognized function(s) in cancer cells.
Methods and Findings
Knockdown of VEGF with vegf-targeting small-interfering (si) RNAs increased susceptibility of human colon cancer cell line (HCT116) to apoptosis caused with 5-fluorouracil, etoposide, or doxorubicin. Recombinant human VEGF165 did not completely inhibit this apoptosis. Conversely, overexpression of VEGF165 increased resistance to anti-cancer drug-induced apoptosis, while an anti-VEGF165-neutralizing antibody did not completely block the resistance. We prepared plasmids encoding full-length vegf mRNA with mutation of signal sequence, vegf mRNAs lacking untranslated regions (UTRs), or mutated 5′UTRs. Using these plasmids, we revealed that the 5′UTR of vegf mRNA possessed anti-apoptotic activity. The 5′UTR-mediated activity was not affected by a protein synthesis inhibitor, cycloheximide. We established HCT116 clones stably expressing either the vegf 5′UTR or the mutated 5′UTR. The clones expressing the 5′UTR, but not the mutated one, showed increased anchorage-independent growth in vitro and formed progressive tumors when implanted in athymic nude mice. Microarray and quantitative real-time PCR analyses indicated that the vegf 5′UTR-expressing tumors had up-regulated anti-apoptotic genes, multidrug-resistant genes, and growth-promoting genes, while pro-apoptotic genes were down-regulated. Notably, expression of signal transducers and activators of transcription 1 (STAT1) was markedly repressed in the 5′UTR-expressing tumors, resulting in down-regulation of a STAT1-responsive cluster of genes (43 genes). As a result, the tumors did not respond to interferon (IFN)α therapy at all. We showed that stable silencing of endogenous vegf mRNA in HCT116 cells enhanced both STAT1 expression and IFNα responses.
These findings suggest that cancer cells have a survival system that is regulated by vegf mRNA and imply that both vegf mRNA and its protein may synergistically promote the malignancy of tumor cells. Therefore, combination of anti-vegf transcript strategies, such as siRNA-based gene silencing, with anti-VEGF antibody treatment may improve anti-cancer therapies that target VEGF.
Shigetada Teshima-Kondo and colleagues find that cancer cells have a survival system that is regulated by vegf mRNA and that vegf mRNA and its protein may synergistically promote the malignancy of tumor cells.
Editors' Summary
Normally, throughout life, cell division (which produces new cells) and cell death are carefully balanced to keep the body in good working order. But sometimes cells acquire changes (mutations) in their genetic material that allow them to divide uncontrollably to form cancers—disorganized masses of cells. When a cancer is small, it uses the body's existing blood supply to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs for its growth and survival. But, when it gets bigger, it has to develop its own blood supply. This process is called angiogenesis. It involves the release by the cancer cells of proteins called growth factors that bind to other proteins (receptors) on the surface of endothelial cells (the cells lining blood vessels). The receptors then send signals into the endothelial cells that tell them to make new blood vessels. One important angiogenic growth factor is “vascular endothelial growth factor” (VEGF). Tumors that make large amounts of VEGF tend to be more abnormal and more aggressive than those that make less VEGF. In addition, high levels of VEGF in the blood are often associated with poor responses to chemotherapy, drug regimens designed to kill cancer cells.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because VEGF is a key regulator of tumor development, several anti-VEGF therapies—drugs that target VEGF and its receptors—have been developed. These therapies strongly suppress the growth of tumor cells in the laboratory and in animals but, when used alone, are no better at increasing the survival times of patients with cancer than standard chemotherapy. Scientists are now looking for an explanation for this disappointing result. Like all proteins, cells make VEGF by “transcribing” its DNA blueprint into an mRNA copy (vegf mRNA), the coding region of which is “translated” into the VEGF protein. Other, “noncoding” regions of vegf mRNA control when and where VEGF is made. Scientists have recently discovered that the noncoding regions of some mRNAs suppress tumor development. In this study, therefore, the researchers investigate whether vegf mRNA has an unrecognized function in tumor cells that could explain the disappointing clinical results of anti-VEGF therapeutics.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers first used a technique called small interfering (si) RNA knockdown to stop VEGF expression in human colon cancer cells growing in dishes. siRNAs are short RNAs that bind to and destroy specific mRNAs in cells, thereby preventing the translation of those mRNAs into proteins. The treatment of human colon cancer cells with vegf-targeting siRNAs made the cells more sensitive to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis (a type of cell death). This sensitivity was only partly reversed by adding VEGF to the cells. By contrast, cancer cells engineered to make more vegf mRNA had increased resistance to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. Treatment of these cells with an antibody that inhibited VEGF function did not completely block this resistance. Together, these results suggest that both vegf mRNA and VEGF protein have anti-apoptotic effects. The researchers show that the anti-apoptotic activity of vegf mRNA requires a noncoding part of the mRNA called the 5′ UTR, and that whereas human colon cancer cells expressing this 5′ UTR form tumors in mice, cells expressing a mutated 5′ UTR do not. Finally, they report that the expression of several pro-apoptotic genes and of an anti-tumor pathway known as the interferon/STAT1 tumor suppression pathway is down-regulated in tumors that express the vegf 5′ UTR.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that some cancer cells have a survival system that is regulated by vegf mRNA and are the first to show that a 5′UTR of mRNA can promote tumor growth. They indicate that VEGF and its mRNA work together to promote their development and to increase their resistance to chemotherapy drugs. They suggest that combining therapies that prevent the production of vegf mRNA (for example, siRNA-based gene silencing) with therapies that block the function of VEGF might improve survival times for patients whose tumors overexpress VEGF.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is discussed further in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Hughes and Jones
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about all aspects of cancer, including information on angiogenesis, and on bevacizumab, an anti-VEGF therapeutic (in English and Spanish)
CancerQuest, from Emory University, provides information on all aspects of cancer, including angiogenesis (in several languages)
Cancer Research UK also provides basic information about what causes cancers and how they develop, grow, and spread, including information about angiogenesis
Wikipedia has pages on VEGF and on siRNA (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2386836  PMID: 18494554
14.  Antifungal activity of redox-active benzaldehydes that target cellular antioxidation 
Disruption of cellular antioxidation systems should be an effective method for control of fungal pathogens. Such disruption can be achieved with redox-active compounds. Natural phenolic compounds can serve as potent redox cyclers that inhibit microbial growth through destabilization of cellular redox homeostasis and/or antioxidation systems. The aim of this study was to identify benzaldehydes that disrupt the fungal antioxidation system. These compounds could then function as chemosensitizing agents in concert with conventional drugs or fungicides to improve antifungal efficacy.
Benzaldehydes were tested as natural antifungal agents against strains of Aspergillus fumigatus, A. flavus, A. terreus and Penicillium expansum, fungi that are causative agents of human invasive aspergillosis and/or are mycotoxigenic. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was also used as a model system for identifying gene targets of benzaldehydes. The efficacy of screened compounds as effective chemosensitizers or as antifungal agents in formulations was tested with methods outlined by the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI).
Several benzaldehydes are identified having potent antifungal activity. Structure-activity analysis reveals that antifungal activity increases by the presence of an ortho-hydroxyl group in the aromatic ring. Use of deletion mutants in the oxidative stress-response pathway of S. cerevisiae (sod1Δ, sod2Δ, glr1Δ) and two mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) mutants of A. fumigatus (sakAΔ, mpkCΔ), indicates antifungal activity of the benzaldehydes is through disruption of cellular antioxidation. Certain benzaldehydes, in combination with phenylpyrroles, overcome tolerance of A. fumigatus MAPK mutants to this agent and/or increase sensitivity of fungal pathogens to mitochondrial respiration inhibitory agents. Synergistic chemosensitization greatly lowers minimum inhibitory (MIC) or fungicidal (MFC) concentrations. Effective inhibition of fungal growth can also be achieved using combinations of these benzaldehydes.
Natural benzaldehydes targeting cellular antioxidation components of fungi, such as superoxide dismutases, glutathione reductase, etc., effectively inhibit fungal growth. They possess antifungal or chemosensitizing capacity to enhance efficacy of conventional antifungal agents. Chemosensitization can reduce costs, abate resistance, and alleviate negative side effects associated with current antifungal treatments.
PMCID: PMC3127747  PMID: 21627838
15.  γH2A-Binding Protein Brc1 Affects Centromere Function in Fission Yeast 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(7):1410-1416.
The coordinated replication and transcription of pericentromeric repeats enable RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated transmission of pericentromeric heterochromatin in fission yeast, which is essential for the proper function of centromeres. Rad3/ATR kinase phosphorylates histone H2A on serine-128/-129 to create γH2A in pericentromeric heterochromatin during S phase, which recruits Brc1 through its breast cancer gene 1 protein (BRCA1) C-terminal (BRCT) domains. Brc1 prevents the collapse of stalled replication forks; however, it is unknown whether this activity influences centromere function. Here, we show that Brc1 localizes in pericentromeric heterochromatin during S phase, where it enhances Clr4/Suv39-mediated H3 lysine-9 dimethylation (H3K9me2) and gene silencing. Loss of Brc1 increases sensitivity to the microtubule-destabilizing drug thiabendazole (TBZ) and increases chromosome missegregation in the presence of TBZ. Brc1 retains significant function even when it cannot bind γH2A. However, elimination of the serine-121 site on histone H2A, a target of Bub1 spindle assembly checkpoint kinase, sensitizes γH2A-deficient and brc1Δ cells to replication stress and microtubule destabilization. Collective results suggest that Brc1-mediated stabilization of stalled replication forks is necessary for fully efficient transmission of pericentromeric heterochromatin, which is required for accurate chromosome segregation during mitosis.
PMCID: PMC3624265  PMID: 23358415
16.  Fission Yeast dim1+ Encodes a Functionally Conserved Polypeptide Essential for Mitosis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;137(6):1337-1354.
In a screen for second site mutations capable of reducing the restrictive temperature of the fission yeast mutant cdc2-D217N, we have isolated a novel temperature-sensitive mutant, dim1-35. When shifted to restrictive temperature, dim1-35 mutant cells arrest before entry into mitosis or proceed through mitosis in the absence of nuclear division, demonstrating an uncoupling of proper DNA segregation from other cell cycle events. Deletion of dim1 from the Schizosaccharomyces pombe genome produces a lethal G2 arrest phenotype. Lethality is rescued by overexpression of the mouse dim1 homolog, mdim1. Likewise, deletion of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae dim1 homolog, CDH1, is lethal. Both mdim1 and dim1+ are capable of rescuing lethality in the cdh1::HIS3 mutant. Although dim1-35 displays no striking genetic interactions with various other G2/M or mitotic mutants, dim1-35 cells incubated at restrictive temperature arrest with low histone H1 kinase activity. Morevoer, dim1-35 displays sensitivity to the microtubule destabilizing drug, thiabendazole (TBZ). We conclude that Dim1p plays a fundamental, evolutionarily conserved role as a protein essential for entry into mitosis as well as for chromosome segregation during mitosis. Based on TBZ sensitivity and failed chromosome segregation in dim1-35, we further speculate that Dim1p may play a role in mitotic spindle formation and/or function.
PMCID: PMC2132542  PMID: 9182666
17.  Targeting Activin Receptor-Like Kinase 1 (ALK1) Inhibits Angiogenesis and Tumorigenesis Through a Mechanism of Action Complementary to Anti-VEGF Therapies 
Cancer Research  2011;71(4):1362-1373.
Genetic and molecular studies suggest that activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1) plays an important role in vascular development, remodeling, and pathologic angiogenesis. Here we investigated the role of ALK1 in angiogenesis in the context of common pro-angiogenic factors (PAFs; vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF] A and basic fibroblast growth factor [bFGF]). We observed that PAFs stimulated ALK1-mediated signaling, including Smad1/5/8 phosphorylation, nuclear translocation and Id-1 expression, cell spreading, and tubulogenesis of endothelial cells (ECs). An antibody specifically targeting ALK1 (anti-ALK1) markedly inhibited these events. In mice, anti-ALK1 suppressed MatrigelTM angiogenesis stimulated by PAFs, and inhibited xenograft tumor growth by attenuating both blood and lymphatic vessel angiogenesis. In a human melanoma model with acquired resistance to a VEGF receptor kinase inhibitor, anti-ALK1 also delayed tumor growth and disturbed vascular normalization associated with VEGF receptor inhibition. In a human/mouse chimera tumor model, targeting human ALK1 decreased human vessel density, and improved antitumor efficacy when combined with bevacizumab (anti-VEGF). Anti-angiogenesis and antitumor efficacy were associated with disrupted colocalization of ECs with desmin+ perivascular cells, and reduction of blood flow primarily in large/mature vessels as assessed by contrast-enhanced ultrasonography. Thus, ALK1 may play a role in stabilizing angiogenic vessels and contribute to resistance to anti-VEGF therapies. Given our observation of its expression in the vasculature of many human tumor types and in circulating ECs from patients with advanced cancers, ALK1 blockade may represent an effective therapeutic opportunity complementary to the current anti-angiogenic modalities in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3269003  PMID: 21212415
ALK1; angiogenesis; TGFβ; VEGF
18.  Gamma-Secretase Inhibitor Treatment Promotes VEGF-A-Driven Blood Vessel Growth and Vascular Leakage but Disrupts Neovascular Perfusion 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18709.
The Notch signaling pathway is essential for normal development due to its role in control of cell differentiation, proliferation and survival. It is also critically involved in tumorigenesis and cancer progression. A key enzyme in the activation of Notch signaling is the gamma-secretase protein complex and therefore, gamma-secretase inhibitors (GSIs)—originally developed for Alzheimer's disease—are now being evaluated in clinical trials for human malignancies. It is also clear that Notch plays an important role in angiogenesis driven by Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A (VEGF-A)—a process instrumental for tumor growth and metastasis. The effect of GSIs on tumor vasculature has not been conclusively determined. Here we report that Compound X (CX), a GSI previously reported to potently inhibit Notch signaling in vitro and in vivo, promotes angiogenic sprouting in vitro and during developmental angiogenesis in mice. Furthermore, CX treatment suppresses tumor growth in a mouse model of renal carcinoma, leads to the formation of abnormal vessels and an increased tumor vascular density. Using a rabbit model of VEGF-A-driven angiogenesis in skeletal muscle, we demonstrate that CX treatment promotes abnormal blood vessel growth characterized by vessel occlusion, disrupted blood flow, and increased vascular leakage. Based on these findings, we propose a model for how GSIs and other Notch inhibitors disrupt tumor blood vessel perfusion, which might be useful for understanding this new class of anti-cancer agents.
PMCID: PMC3077402  PMID: 21533193
19.  Mechanism of Action of the Fungicide Thiabendazole, 2-(4′-Thiazolyl) Benzimidazole 
Applied Microbiology  1970;20(6):919-926.
Thiabendazole, 2-(4′-thiazolyl) benzimidazole (TBZ) inhibited the growth of Penicillium atrovenetum at 8 to 10 μg/ml. Oxygen consumption with exogenous glucose was inhibited at 20 μg/ml, but endogenous respiration required more than 100 μg/ml. TBZ inhibited completely the following systems of isolated heart or fungus mitochondria: reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide oxidase, succinic oxidase, reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide-cytochrome c reductase, and succinic-cytochrome c reductase at concentrations of 10, 167, 10, and 0.5 μg/ml, respectively. Cytochrome c oxidase was not inhibited. Antimycin A and sodium azide caused the usual inhibition patterns for both fungus and heart terminal electron transport systems. In the presence of antimycin, the fungicide inhibited completely succinate-dichloro-phenolindophenol reductase and succinate-2, 2-di-p-nitrophenyl-(3, 3-dimethoxy-4, 4-biphenylene-5, 5-diphenylditetrazolium)-reductase at 2 and 4 μg of TBZ per ml, respectively. Coenzyme Q reductase required 15 μg/ml. TBZ reduced the uptake by P. atrovenetum of glucose and amino acids and decreased the synthesis of various cell components. At 120 μg/ml, the incorporation of labeled carbon from amino acids-U-14C was decreased: lipid, 73%; nucleic acids, 80%; protein, 80%; and a residual fraction, 89%. TBZ did not inhibit peptide synthesis in a cell-free protein-synthesizing system from Rhizoctonia solani. Probably the primary site of inhibition is the terminal electron transport system and other effects are secondary.
PMCID: PMC377084  PMID: 5531164
20.  Limitations of the dorsal skinfold window chamber model in evaluating anti-angiogenic therapy during early phase of angiogenesis 
Vascular Cell  2014;6:17.
Angiogenesis is an essential process during tumor development and growth. The murine dorsal skinfold window chamber model has been used for the study of both tumor microvasculature and other vascular diseases, including the study of anti-angiogenic agents in cancer therapy. Hyperspectral imaging of oxygen status of the microvasculature has not been widely used to evaluate response to inhibition of angiogenesis in early tumor cell induced vascular development. This study demonstrates the use of two different classes of anti-angiogenic agents, one targeting the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) pathway involved with vessel sprouting and the other targeting the Angiopoietin/Tie2 pathway involved in vascular destabilization. Studies evaluated the tumor microvascular response to anti-angiogenic inhibitors in the highly angiogenic renal cell carcinoma induced angiogenesis model.
Human renal cell carcinoma, Caki-2 cells, were implanted in the murine skinfold window chamber. Mice were treated with either VEGF pathway targeted small molecule inhibitor Sunitinib (100 mg/kg) or with an anti-Ang-2 monoclonal antibody (10 mg/kg) beginning the day of window chamber surgery and tumor cell implantation. Hyperspectral imaging of hemoglobin saturation was used to evaluate both the development and oxygenation of the tumor microvasculature. Tumor volume over time was also assessed over an 11-day period post surgery.
The window chamber model was useful to demonstrate the inhibition of angiogenesis using the VEGF pathway targeted agent Sunitinib. Results show impairment of tumor microvascular development, reduced oxygenation of tumor-associated vasculature and impairment of tumor volume growth compared to control. On the other hand, this model failed to demonstrate the anti-angiogenic effect of the Ang-2 targeted agent. Follow up experiments suggest that the initial surgery of the window chamber model may interfere with such an agent thus skewing the actual effects on angiogenesis.
Results show that this model has great potential to evaluate anti-VEGF, or comparable, targeted agents; however the mere protocol of the window chamber model interferes with proper evaluation of Ang-2 targeted agents. The limitations of this in vivo model in evaluating the response of tumor vasculature to anti-angiogenic agents are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4123308  PMID: 25101168
Angiogenesis; Angiopoietin-2; Anti-angiogenic therapy; Dorsal skinfold window chamber model; Vascular endothelial growth factor
21.  Screening for Microtubule-Disrupting Antifungal Agents by Using a Mitotic-Arrest Mutant of Aspergillus nidulans and Novel Action of Phenylalanine Derivatives Accompanying Tubulin Loss 
The microtubule, which is one of the major targets of anthelmintics, anticancer drugs, and fungicides, is composed mainly of α- and β-tubulins. We focused on a unique characteristic of an Aspergillus nidulans benA33 mutant to screen for microtubule-disrupting antifungal agents. This mutant, which has a β-tubulin with a mutation of a single amino acid, undergoes mitotic arrest due to the formation of hyperstable microtubules at 37°C. The heat sensitivity of the mutant is remedied by some antimicrotubule agents. We found that an agar plate assay with the mutant was able to distinguish three types of microtubule inhibitors. The growth recovery zones of the mutant were formed around paper disks containing microtubule inhibitors, including four benzimidazoles, ansamitocin P-3, griseofulvin, and rhizoxin, on the agar plate at 37°C. Nocodazole, thiabendazole, and griseofulvin reversed the mitotic arrest of the mutant and promoted its hyphal growth. Ansamitocin P-3 and rhizoxin showed growth recovery zones around the growth-inhibitory zones. Benomyl and carbendazim also reversed mitotic arrest but produced weaker growth recovery than the aforementioned drugs. Other microtubule inhibitors, such as colchicine, Colcemid, paclitaxel, podophyllotoxin, TN-16, vinblastine, and vincristine, as well as some cytoskeletal inhibitors tested, did not show such activity. In our screening, we newly identified two mycotoxins, citrinin and patulin, two sesquiterpene dialdehydes, polygodial and warburganal, and four phenylalanine derivatives, arphamenine A, l-2,5-dihydrophenylalanine (DHPA), N-tosyl-l-phenylalanine chloromethylketone, and N-carbobenzoxy-l-phenylalanine chloromethyl ketone. In a wild-type strain of A. nidulans, DHPA caused selective losses of microtubules, as determined by fluorescence microscopy, and of both α- and β-tubulins, as determined by Western blot analysis. This screening method involving the benA33 mutant of A. nidulans is useful, convenient, and highly selective. The phenylalanine derivatives tested are of a novel type of microtubule-disrupting antifungal agents, producing an accompanying loss of tubulins, and are different from well-known tubulin inhibitors affecting the assembly of tubulin dimers into microtubules.
PMCID: PMC400532  PMID: 15105129
22.  Cardiovascular Toxicity Profiles of Vascular-Disrupting Agents 
The Oncologist  2011;16(8):1120-1130.
The cardiovascular adverse events noted in clinical trials of vascular-disrupting agents and their potential ramifications are examined.
Vascular-disrupting agents (VDAs) represent a new class of chemotherapeutic agent that targets the existing vasculature in solid tumors. Preclinical and early-phase trials have demonstrated the promising therapeutic benefits of VDAs but have also uncovered a distinctive toxicity profile highlighted by cardiovascular events.
We reviewed all preclinical and prospective phase I–III clinical trials published up to August 2010 in MEDLINE and the American Association of Cancer Research and American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting abstracts of small-molecule VDAs, including combretastatin A4 phosphate (CA4P), combretastatin A1 phosphate (CA1P), MPC-6827, ZD6126, AVE8062, and ASA404.
Phase I and II studies of CA1P, ASA404, MPC-6827, and CA4P all reported cardiovascular toxicities, with the most common cardiac events being National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria (version 3) grade 1–3 hypertension, tachyarrhythmias and bradyarrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, and myocardial infarction. Cardiac events were dose-limiting toxicities in phase I trials with VDA monotherapy and combination therapy.
Early-phase trials of VDAs have revealed a cardiovascular toxicity profile similar to that of their vascular-targeting counterparts, the angiogenesis inhibitors. As these agents are added to the mainstream chemotherapeutic arsenal, careful identification of baseline cardiovascular risk factors would seem to be a prudent strategy. Close collaboration with cardiology colleagues for early indicators of serious cardiac adverse events will likely minimize toxicity while optimizing the therapeutic potential of VDAs and ultimately enhancing patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3228163  PMID: 21742963
Vascular-disrupting agent; Hypertension; Cardiovascular toxicity; Combretastatin; Phase 1
23.  Tumor angiogenesis and anti-angiogenic therapy in malignant gliomas revisited 
Acta Neuropathologica  2012;124(6):763-775.
The cellular and molecular mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis and its prospects for anti-angiogenic cancer therapy are major issues in almost all current concepts of both cancer biology and targeted cancer therapy. Currently, (1) sprouting angiogenesis, (2) vascular co-option, (3) vascular intussusception, (4) vasculogenic mimicry, (5) bone marrow-derived vasculogenesis, (6) cancer stem-like cell-derived vasculogenesis and (7) myeloid cell-driven angiogenesis are all considered to contribute to tumor angiogenesis. Many of these processes have been described in developmental angiogenesis; however, the relative contribution and relevance of these in human brain cancer remain unclear. Preclinical tumor models support a role for sprouting angiogenesis, vascular co-option and myeloid cell-derived angiogenesis in glioma vascularization, whereas a role for the other four mechanisms remains controversial and rather enigmatic. The anti-angiogenesis drug Avastin (Bevacizumab), which targets VEGF, has become one of the most popular cancer drugs in the world. Anti-angiogenic therapy may lead to vascular normalization and as such facilitate conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy. However, preclinical and clinical studies suggest that anti-VEGF therapy using bevacizumab may also lead to a pro-migratory phenotype in therapy resistant glioblastomas and thus actively promote tumor invasion and recurrent tumor growth. This review focusses on (1) mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis in human malignant glioma that are of particular relevance for targeted therapy and (2) controversial issues in tumor angiogenesis such as cancer stem-like cell-derived vasculogenesis and bone-marrow-derived vasculogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3508273  PMID: 23143192
24.  Rapid Identification of Antifungal Compounds against Exserohilum rostratum Using High Throughput Drug Repurposing Screens 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70506.
A recent large outbreak of fungal infections by Exserohilum rostratum from contaminated compounding solutions has highlighted the need to rapidly screen available pharmaceuticals that could be useful in therapy. The present study utilized two newly-developed high throughput assays to screen approved drugs and pharmaceutically active compounds for identification of potential antifungal agents. Several known drugs were found that have potent effects against E. rostratum including the triazole antifungal posaconazole. Posaconazole is likely to be effective against infections involving septic joints and may provide an alternative for refractory central nervous system infections. The anti-E. rostratum activities of several other drugs including bithionol (an anti-parasitic drug), tacrolimus (an immunosuppressive agent) and floxuridine (an antimetabolite) were also identified from the drug repurposing screens. In addition, activities of other potential antifungal agents against E. rostratum were excluded, which may avoid unnecessary therapeutic trials and reveals the limited therapeutic alternatives for this outbreak. In summary, this study has demonstrated that drug repurposing screens can be quickly conducted within a useful time-frame. This would allow clinical implementation of identified alternative therapeutics and should be considered as part of the initial public health response to new outbreaks or rapidly-emerging microbial pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3749181  PMID: 23990907
25.  Monitoring Antivascular Therapy in Head and Neck Cancer Xenografts using Contrast-enhanced MR and US Imaging 
Angiogenesis  2011;14(4):491-501.
The overall goal of this study was to non-invasively monitor changes in blood flow of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) xenografts using contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) and ultrasound (US) imaging.
Experimental studies were performed on mice bearing FaDu tumors and SCCHN xenografts derived from human surgical tissue. MR examinations were performed using gadofosveset trisodium at 4.7T. Change in T1-relaxation rate of tumors (ΔR1) and tumor enhancement parameters (amplitude, area under the curve - AUC) were measured at baseline and 24 hours after treatment with a tumor-vascular disrupting agent (tumor-VDA), 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA; ASA404) and correlated with tumor necrosis and treatment outcome. CE-US was performed using microbubbles (Vevo MicroMarker®) to assess the change in relative tumor blood volume following VDA treatment.
A marked decrease (up to 68% of baseline) in T1-enhancement of FaDu tumors was observed one day after VDA therapy indicative of a reduction in blood flow. Early (24h) vascular response of individual tumors to VDA therapy detected by MRI correlated with tumor necrosis and volume estimates at 10 days post treatment. VDA treatment also resulted in a significant reduction in AUC and amplitude of patient tumor-derived SCCHN xenografts. Consistent with MRI observations, CE-US revealed a significant reduction in tumor blood volume of patient tumor-derived SCCHN xenografts after VDA therapy. Treatment with VDA resulted in a significant tumor growth inhibition of patient tumor derived SCCHN xenografts.
These findings demonstrate that both CE-MRI and CE-US allow monitoring of early changes in vascular function following VDA therapy. The results also demonstrate, for the first time, potent vascular disruptive and antitumor activity of DMXAA against patient tumor-derived head and neck carcinoma xenografts.
PMCID: PMC3702176  PMID: 21901534
Angiogenesis; SCCHN; VDAs; MRI; US

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