Development of Novel Alpha-amanitin Analogs for Targeted Cancer Chemotherapy

New toxins for incorporation into treatments known as antibody-drug conjugates are urgently needed to ensure therapeutic action. These antibody-drug conjugates consist of an antibody, designed to target a specific group of cells, attached to an active drug that elicits a desired cell response. While most emergent payloads for clinical application target tubulin, making them redundant, the death cap mushroom contains a toxic peptide called alpha-amanitin with unique biological activity. Amanitin presents its toxicity by preventing the conversion of DNA to RNA, a process required for protein synthesis. This inhibition ultimately leads to cell death.  Amanitin’s high toxicity provides potential for a low dose cancer therapeutic if general toxicity to non-cancerous cells can be avoided. I seek to investigate the feasibility to harness amanitin’s bioactivity while delivering the toxin specifically to cancer cells by attaching a targeting agent. In order to facilitate these investigations, I will develop a scalable method to generate substantial amounts of the toxin. By utilizing this targeted approach, we anticipate a cancer cell-specific delivery of the toxin, which in turn would attenuate the off-target effects and general toxicity.