Hepatocyte Growth Factor and Macrophage-stimulating Protein "Hinge" Analogs to Treat Pancreatic Cancer

Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2019;19(10):782-795. doi: 10.2174/1568009619666190326130008.


Pancreatic cancer (PC) ranks twelfth in frequency of diagnosis but is the fourth leading cause of cancer related deaths with a 5 year survival rate of less than 7 percent. This poor prognosis occurs because the early stages of PC are often asymptomatic. Over-expression of several growth factors, most notably vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), has been implicated in PC resulting in dysfunctional signal transduction pathways and the facilitation of tumor growth, invasion and metastasis. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) acts via the Met receptor and has also received research attention with ongoing efforts to develop treatments to block the Met receptor and its signal transduction pathways. Macrophage-stimulating protein (MSP), and its receptor Ron, is also recognized as important in the etiology of PC but is less well studied. Although the angiotensin II (AngII)/AT1 receptor system is best known for mediating blood pressure and body water/electrolyte balance, it also facilitates tumor vascularization and growth by stimulating the expression of VEGF. A metabolite of AngII, angiotensin IV (AngIV) has sequence homology with the "hinge regions" of HGF and MSP, key structures in the growth factor dimerization processes necessary for Met and Ron receptor activation. We have developed AngIV-based analogs designed to block dimerization of HGF and MSP and thus receptor activation. Norleual has shown promise as tested utilizing PC cell cultures. Results indicate that cell migration, invasion, and pro-survival functions were suppressed by this analog and tumor growth was significantly inhibited in an orthotopic PC mouse model.

Keywords: Pancreatic cancer; Ron receptor; angiotensin IV; hepatocyte growth factor; macrophage stimulating protein; met receptor..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Oligopeptides / pharmacology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • HGF protein, human
  • Oligopeptides
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • macrophage stimulating protein
  • norleucyl-tyrosyl-leucyl-psi(CH2-NH2)(3-4)-histidyl-prolyl-phenylalanine
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor