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01.12.2017 | Primary research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Cancer Cell International 1/2017

HLBT-100: a highly potent anti-cancer flavanone from Tillandsia recurvata (L.) L.

Cancer Cell International > Ausgabe 1/2017
Henry I. C. Lowe, Ngeh J. Toyang, Charah T. Watson, Kenneth N. Ayeah, Joseph Bryant



The incidence and mortalities from cancers remain on the rise worldwide. Despite significant efforts to discover and develop novel anticancer agents, many cancers remain in the unmet need category. As such, efforts to discover and develop new and more effective and less toxic agents against cancer remain a top global priority. Our drug discovery approach is natural products based with a focus on plants. Tillandsia recurvata (L.) L. is one of the plants selected by our research team for further studies based on previous bioactivity findings on the anticancer activity of this plant.


The plant biomass was extracted using supercritical fluid extraction technology with CO2 as the mobile phase. Bioactivity guided isolation was achieved by use of chromatographic technics combined with anti-proliferative assays to determine the active fraction and subsequently the pure compound. Following in house screening, the identified molecule was submitted to the US National Cancer Institute for screening on the NCI60 cell line panel using standard protocols. Effect of HLBT-100 on apoptosis, caspase 3/7, cell cycle and DNA fragmentation were assessed using standard protocols. Antiangiogenic activity was carried out using the ex vivo rat aortic ring assay.


A flavonoid of the flavanone class was isolated from T. recurvata (L.) L. with potent anticancer activity. The molecule was code named as HLBT-100 (also referred to as HLBT-001). The compound inhibited brain cancer (U87 MG), breast cancer (MDA-MB231), leukemia (MV4-11), melanoma (A375), and neuroblastoma (IMR-32) with IC50 concentrations of 0.054, 0.030, 0.024, 0.003 and 0.05 µM, respectively. The molecule also exhibited broad anticancer activity in the NCI60 panel inhibiting especially hematological, colon, CNS, melanoma, ovarian, breast and prostate cancers. Twenty-three of the NCI60 cell lines were inhibited with GI50 values <0.100 µM. In terms of potential mechanisms of action, the molecule demonstrated effect on the cell cycle as evidenced by the accumulation of cells with <G1 DNA content, activation of caspase 3/7, DNA fragmentation and culminating in apoptotic cell death. HLBT-100 also demonstrated antiangiogenic potential by inhibiting capillary sprout and tube formation in a dose dependent manner in the ex vivo rat aortic ring.


This paper describes for the first time the anticancer activity of HLBT-100 isolated from T. recurvate (L.) L. The broad and selective anticancer activity of HLBT-100 as evidenced by its potent activity against IMR-32, CNS cancer cell line while not active against neuro-2a, a normal CNS cell line. The activity demonstrated by HLBT-100 in these studies makes the molecule a potential candidate for further development targeting especially those cancers that remain in the unmet need category such as glioblastoma multiforme and acute myeloid leukemia in addition to other cancers.
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