The polyamines are growth factors in both normal and cancer cells. As the intracellular polyamine content correlates positively with the growth potential of that cell, the idea that depletion of polyamine content will result in inhibition of cell growth and, particularly tumour cell growth, has been developed over the last 15 years. The polyamine pathway is therefore a target for development of rationally designed, antiproliferative agents. Following the lessons from the single enzyme inhibitors (a-difluoromethylornithine DFMO), three generations of polyamine analogues have been synthesised and tested in vitro and in vivo. The analogues are multi-site inhibitors affecting multiple reactions in the pathway and thus prevent the up-regulation of compensatory reactions that have been the downfall of DFMO in anticancer chemotherapy. Although the initial concept was that the analogues may provide novel anticancer drugs, it now seems likely that the analogues will have wider applications in diseases involving hyperplasia.
- polyamine analogues