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Home Technologies Method to regulate tumor growth and immunosuppression by GABA inhibition
Method to regulate tumor growth and immunosuppression by GABA inhibition

Method to regulate tumor growth and immunosuppression by GABA inhibition

Unmet Need

Non-small cell lung cancer has an incidence of more than 200,000 cases with a survival rate of less than 50%. There are nearly 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer each year and more than 50,000 deaths in the US. This steady market grows approximately 1% in the over 50 age category each year. This high mortality rate is due in part to ineffective cancer therapies and emerging resistance. There is a need for effective cancer treatment methods.


Duke inventors have identified a method to treat solid tumor cancers. This method is intended to be used to develop anticancer drugs for use in cancer treatment. Specifically, the inventors have characterized how increased γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production in cancer cells predicts poor patient survival. The inventors demonstrated increased GABA supports cancer cell proliferation using growth curves. Additionally, tumor cells with increased GABA exclude T cells from tumors in part by suppressing cytokine CCL4/5 production. Finally, the inventors demonstrate inhibiting GABA reverses immunotherapy resistance (using GAD1 inhibitor 3-MPA and GABABR antagonist 2-OH-saclofen, individually and in combination with anti-PD-1 antibodies). Therefore, the authors confirm targeting this pathway is an effective method for cancer treatment and a promising avenue for drug development.

Other Applications

This technology could also have applications for immune stimulation under circumstances where CCL4/5 cytokine production is diminished independent of cancer presence.


  • Effective cancer cell specific treatment method
  • Potential to re-sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapy and increasing efficacy of existing treatments
  • Discovery of novel targetable pathway offers greater opportunity for treatment discovery compared to over utilized targets
  • May be safer than current alternatives with increased chance of treatment success

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