Strigolactones: A Novel Class of Phytohormones that Inhibit the Growth and Survival of Breast Cancer Cells

Categories: "Cancer Therapeutics"

Reference #: 2012-002

OTC Contact: Zeinab Abouissa. (Directory Information | Send a Message)


Breast cancer continues to be the major cause of cancer-related deaths in North American women and other western countries, with an estimated 1.38 million new cancer cases diagnosed worldwide. While there has been a small decline in breast cancer-related deaths in the past decade, it continues to be the leading cause of cancer-related death in women. An established history exists for plant-derived compounds as effective anticancer agents. An investigator at Georgetown University, working in collaboration with researchers at the Agricultural Research Organization in Israel and the University of Torino in Italy, has discovered that strigolactones, a class of phytohormones produced in roots that regulate new above ground shoot branching, are potent inhibitors of self-renewal and survival of breast cancer cells. The investigators demonstrated that several synthetic strigolactone analogs effectively killed breast cancer cells as well as breast cancer cell lines grown as mammospheres and enriched with cancer stem cell-like cells which are very difficult to treat. In fact, it took a lower dose to destroy the cancer stem cell-like cells suggesting that the compound has the ability to target the very cells that most cancer drugs have not been able to treat. Non-cancer cells were only affected by the compounds at very high doses.


The novel compounds are potential therapeutic treatments for breast, lung, colon, and prostrate cancers and may be particularly effective at killing cancer stem cells.


Strigolactones represent a new class of anticancer therapeutics.

The strigolactone analogs can induce cell cycle arrest and cell death in breast cancer cells but had little effect on normal cells.

The strigolactone analogs were even more effective at killing cancer stem-like cells at lower doses.

The compounds also demonstrated efficacy at killing colon, lung, and prostate cancer cell lines.

Stage of Development

Studies are now underway using the novel synthetic strigolactone analogs for treatment of mouse models of breast cancer. Preliminary studies indicate that the strigolactone analogs induce activation of stress response pathways and inhibition of PI3K/AKT activation.

Relevant Publications

No references or resources available.

Patent Status

Two provisional patent applications filed.