Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer with a very low survival rate. Human pancreatic cancer cells have an aggressive proliferation rate while causing a chronic deficiency of oxygen and essential nutrients due to their high metabolic need. The microenvironment of pancreatic tumors possesses significantly low levels of oxygen and nutrients, as compared to the normal cells. The pancreatic cancer cells exhibit a noteworthy resistance to starvation due to the ability to tolerate these extreme conditions, which is known as ‘Austerity’.
The scientists aim at devising an anti-austerity strategy that may identify potent agents involved in inhibiting the survival of tumor cells during a limited supply of oxygen and nutrients. Researchers from different universities understand the lethality and aggressiveness of pancreatic cancer in depleting oxygen and nutrients in the region of the tumor. Under such devastating conditions, most of the cells die, while pancreatic cancer cells activate the Akt/mTOR signaling pathway to survive.
In order to interrupt this pathway, researchers are attempting to identify compounds with anti-austerity properties, depicting toxicity to cancer cells under nutrient-deprived conditions. Such an anti-austerity compound, named ancistrolikokine E3 has been isolated from the twigs of the Congolese liana, Ancistrocladus likoko. Ancistrolikokine E3 is an alkaloid containing nitrogen and exhibited potent preferential cytotoxicity under nutrient-deprived conditions against pancreatic cancer cells. Ancistrolikokine E3 inhibited the colony formation of pancreatic cancer cells in a concentration-dependent manner by changing their morphology.
Researchers stated that Ancistrolikokine E3 is a promising anti-austerity compound for anticancer drug development that works by deterring the Akt/mTOR pathway.