Research Lab Bench

MCW Researchers are Inventors on Newly Awarded U.S. Patent for Mito-Honokiol Compounds and Methods to Treat Cancer

Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) researchers led a team that invented the technology in MCW’s recently awarded U.S. Patent 10,836,782 for Mito-Honokiol Compounds and Methods of Synthesis and Use Thereof. The patent pertains to mitochondria-targeting cationic drugs, specifically mito-honokiol compounds, and methods of using these compounds to inhibit tumor growth and reduce brain metastases in lung and pancreatic cancer.

MCW inventors include Balaraman Kalyanaraman, PhD, chair and professor of biophysics and the Harry R. & Angeline E. Quadracci Professor in Parkinson’s Research, Jacek Zielonka, PhD, DSc, assistant professor, and Gang Cheng, PhD, research scientist II, from the Department of Biophysics, and Ming You, MD, PhD, Joseph F. Heil Jr. Professor in Molecular Oncogenesis in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Micael Hardy, PhD, and Olivier Ouari, PhD, of Aix-Marseille Université, France, were also inventors.

Mito-honokiol, also referred to as mito-HNK, is a novel compound developed by adding a mitochondria-targeting molecule, triphenylphosphonium, to the naturally occurring compound, honokiol. Honokiol is a natural biphenolic compound present in magnolia bark extracts that has been shown to exhibit antitumor effects in several in vitro and in vivo models of cancer. The novel mito-honokiol compound selectively targets the mitochondria of tumor cells, giving it 100- to 1,000-fold more potent antiproliferative activity compared to honokiol. This also translates into significantly increased functional activity of mito-honokiol in vivo.

More information on this technology is detailed in the article Mitochondria-Targeted Honokiol Confers a Striking Inhibitory Effect on Lung Cancer via Inhibiting Complex I Activity. The patent can also be reviewed online.

The MCW Office of Technology Development facilitated the effort that led to patent protection of this novel technology for the inventors, and their team is available to advise and assist other MCW innovators in the patent and licensing process. This is another excellent example of collaborative, cutting-edge science coming out of MCW to advance health for all. Congratulations to the inventors on this achievement!