Metastasis is the cause of death in the majority (∼90%) of malignant cancers. The oral potassium-sparing diuretic amiloride and its 5-substituted derivative 5-N,N-(hexamethylene)amiloride (HMA) reportedly show robust antitumor/metastasis effects in multiple in vitro and animal models. These effects are likely due, at least in part, to inhibition of the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), a key protease determinant of cell invasiveness and metastasis. This study reports the discovery of 6-substituted HMA analogs that show nanomolar potency against uPA, high selectivity over related trypsin-like serine proteases, and minimal inhibitory effects against epithelial sodium channels (ENaC), the diuretic and antikaliuretic target of amiloride. Reductions in lung metastases were demonstrated for two analogs in a late-stage experimental mouse metastasis model, and one analog completely inhibited formation of liver metastases in an orthotopic xenograft mouse model of pancreatic cancer. The results support further evaluation of 6-substituted HMA derivatives as uPA-targeting anticancer drugs.
Available for download on Wednesday, August 21, 2019