UC Irvine investigators spotlight a new class of 'chemosensitizers'

Scientists with the UC Irvine School of Medicine and the Italian Institute of Technology have spotlighted what they call the "very first class" of acid ceramidase inhibitors that could eventually go on to help amp up the effectiveness of chemotherapies.

Daniele Piomelli

The team, led by UC Irvine's Daniele Piomelli, began their work based on studies that showed the enzyme acid peramidase is upregulated in various cancers, including melanoma, lung and prostate cancers. The enzyme plays an important role in cell fate, according to work published in Angewandte Chemie, making AC inhibitors a potential drug class that could enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy in killing cancer cells.

In an in vivo study, the scientists say they were able to tilt chemical signals at play toward aging and death. And they determined that they had an active small molecule AC inhibitor to start with.

Much more work needs to be done, but the UC Irvine investigator believes he's struck out on the right path in cancer R&D.

"We hope that AC inhibitors may be one day used as 'chemosensitizers'--drugs that enhance the cancer-killing power of anti-tumoral drugs," said Piomelli in a statement. "The new chemical scaffold we published is a promising starting point for the development of novel therapeutic agents, and we aim to pursue its further pharmaceutical development."

- here's the release