Benzamide riboside, a recently discovered inhibitor of IMP dehydrogenase (IMPDH) exhibits oncolytic activity. IMPDH is the key enzyme of de novo guanylate biosynthesis and was shown to be linked with proliferation. Therefore, IMPDH is a very good target for antitumor therapy. In order to be active, benzamide riboside has to be converted to BAD, an NAD analogue that binds to the NAD site on IMPDH. Inhibition of the enzyme by benzamide riboside selectively inhibits tumor cell growth and induces apoptosis in various human tumor cell lines. In this manuscript we describe the induction of the CD71 transferrin receptor in human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells following treatment with benzamide riboside. The results indicate a possible involvement of the iron metabolism in the action of this new compound. Benzamide riboside might be clinically used in the treatment of leukemia and solid tumors, alone or as part of combination therapy. Since transferrin receptors are overexpressed in certain cancers, such as glioma and colon cancer, a combination therapy that includes benzamide riboside in transferrin-coupled liposomes will not only target cancer cells but also leads to suicidal action because benzamide riboside will upregulate transferrin receptors on cancer cells thereby make it accessible to dose-intensive chemotherapy. We therefore believe that benzamide riboside itself or derivatives of benzamide riboside might become an important addition for the treatment to diseases that are otherwise fatal.
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