Sialic Acid Inhibitor in Cancer Treatment and Immunotherapy

Tech ID: 32512 / UC Case 2020-033-0


Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a method of inhibiting sialic acid expression which is commonly related to bacterial and viral infections, metastatic cancer, and other pathogenic processes.

Full Description

Sialic acids and their derivatives play a role in a number of physiological and pathological processes including immunology, infection, allergenic responses, virology, and cancer. For example, there is usually an increased expression of specific sialic acid-containing glycan structures on the surface of metastatic cancer cells, which allows the cancer cells to enter the bloodstream more easily and spread to other areas of the body. Sialic acid-containing structures on the surface of pathogenic cells also allow them to remain undetected by the immune system by interacting with Siglecs (Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-type lectins) on the surface of immune cells, weakening the body’s immune response. Enzymes responsible for the formation and break down of this family of carbohydrates can affect the effectiveness of the immune system. A method of reducing sialic acid expression in pathogenic cells could lead to advancements in antibiotics, cancer treatments, and immunotherapy.

Researchers at the University of California Davis have developed a method of inhibiting sialic acid synthesis through the use of unsaturated sialic acid derivatives called Sia2en. Using these compounds, it is possible to inhibit sialic acid expression by targeting enzymes that are responsible for the synthesis of CMP-Sialic acids (e.g. CMP-sialic acid synthetases or CSSs), the intermediates that are necessary for the biosynthesis of sialic acid-containing structures. Directly inhibiting CSS is a novel approach to reducing the expression level of sialic acid on cell surface. Furthermore, such a method can be used to selectively inhibit the CMP-sialic acid biosynthesis in bacteria by selectively inhibiting bacterial CSSs. Similar strategies can be used to inhibit CMP-Kdo synthetases, CMP-legionaminic acid synthetases, CMP-pseudaminic acid synthetases that are expressed by pathogenic bacteria but not humans or animals. The treatment of this type of compounds may be used to treat diseases caused by bacteria that express alpha-keto acids and provide therapeutic benefits to a variety of illnesses.


  • Use in development of new antibiotics 
  • Can provide therapeutic benefits in cancer treatments and immunotherapy


  • Specifically and effectively targets sialoside synthesis 
  • Novel strategy to disease treatment

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
Patent Cooperation Treaty Published Application 2021055753A1 03/25/2021 2020-033


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  • Chen, Xi
  • Fisher, Andrew J
  • McArthur, John

Other Information


CMP-sialic acid inhibitor, CMP-legionaminic acid inhibitor, CMP-pseudaminic acid inhibitor, CMP-Kdo inhibitor, antibiotics, cancer treatment, immunotherapy

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