Project Leader: Marco De Vivo, PhD
The expression of acid ceramidase (AC) – a intracellular enzyme that hydrolyses the lipid messenger ceramide – is abnormally high in several human tumors, which is suggestive of a role in the resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents. Available acid ceramidase inhibitors lack, however, the potency and drug-likeness necessary to test this idea. We discovered new chemical entities that are potent at inhibiting intracellular AC activity. These compounds, which act synergistically with standard antitumoral drugs to block cancer cell proliferation, may be used as starting points for novel chemosensitizing agents.