A Myristoyl Amide Derivative of Doxycycline



Here, we describe the chemical synthesis and biological activity of a new Doxycycline derivative, designed specifically to more effectively target cancer stem cells (CSCs). In this analog, a myristic acid (14 carbon) moiety is covalently attached to the free amino group of 9-amino-Doxycycline. First, we determined the IC50 of Doxy-Myr using the 3D-mammosphere assay, to assess its ability to inhibit the anchorage-independent growth of breast CSCs, using MCF7 cells as a model system. Our results indicate that Doxy-Myr is >5-fold more potent than Doxycycline, as it appears to be better retained in cells, within a peri-nuclear membranous compartment. Moreover, Doxy-Myr did not affect the viability of the total MCF7 cancer cell population or normal fibroblasts grown as 2D-monolayers, showing remarkable selectivity for CSCs. Using both gram-negative and gram-positive bacterial strains, we also demonstrated that Doxy-Myr did not show antibiotic activity, against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Interestingly, other complementary Doxycycline amide derivatives, with longer (16 carbon; palmitic acid) or shorter (12 carbon; lauric acid) fatty acid chain lengths, were both less potent than Doxy-Myr for the targeting of CSCs. Finally, using MDA-MB-231 cells, we also demonstrate that Doxy-Myr has no appreciable effect on tumor growth, but potently inhibits tumor cell metastasis in vivo, with little or no toxicity. In summary, by using 9-amino-Doxycycline as a scaffold, here we have designed new chemical entities for their further development as anti-cancer agents. These compounds selectively target CSCs, e.g., Doxy-Myr, while effectively minimizing the risk of driving antibiotic resistance. Taken together, our current studies provide proof-of-principle, that existing FDA-approved drugs can be further modified and optimized, to successfully target the anchorage-independent growth of CSCs and to prevent the process of spontaneous tumor cell metastasis.

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