Gramicidin A: A New Mission for an Old Antibiotic

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Justin M David
Ayyappan K Rajasekaran


Gramicidin, ionophore, renal cell carcinoma


Gramicidin A (GA) is a channel-forming ionophore that renders biological membranes permeable to specific cations which disrupts cellular ionic homeostasis.  It is a well-known antibiotic, however it’s potential as a therapeutic agent for cancer has not been widely evaluated.  In two recently published studies, we showed that GA treatment is toxic to cell lines and tumor xenografts derived from renal cell carcinoma (RCC), a devastating disease that is highly resistant to conventional therapy.  GA was found to possess the qualities of both a cytotoxic drug and a targeted angiogenesis inhibitor, and this combination significantly compromised RCC growth in vitro and in vivo.  In this review, we summarize our recent research on GA, discuss the possible mechanisms whereby it exerts its anti-tumor effects, and share our perspectives on the future opportunities and challenges to the use of GA as a new anticancer agent.
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