Inactivators of Ornithine Aminotransferase for the Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Richard B. Silverman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second or third leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide (depending on which statistics are used), yet there is no effective treatment. Currently, there are nine FDA-approved drugs for HCC, five monoclonal antibodies and four tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Ornithine aminotransferase (OAT) has been validated as a target in preclinical studies, which demonstrates that it is a potential target to treat HCC. Currently, there are no OAT inactivators in clinical trials for HCC. This Innovation describes evidence to support inhibition of OAT as a novel approach for HCC tumor growth inhibition. After the mechanism of OAT is discussed, the origins of our involvement in OAT inactivation, based on our previous work on mechanism-based inactivation of GABA-AT, are described. Once it was demonstrated that OAT inactivation does lead to HCC tumor growth inhibition, new selective OAT inactivators were designed and their inactivation mechanisms were elucidated. A summary of these mechanistic studies is presented. Inactivators of OAT provide the potential for treatment of HCC, targeting the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-49
Number of pages12
JournalACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 13 2022


  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Mechanism-based inactivation
  • Ornithine aminotransferase
  • Wnt/β-catenin
  • X-ray crystal structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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