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Michael B. Sporn, M.D.

Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Professor of Medicine

Pharmacology & Toxicology

Harvard University, AB 1952
U. Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry, MD 1959

Norris Cotton Cancer Center
Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Program
Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine


Contact Information:

7650 Remsen
Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Geisel School of Medicine
Hanover NH 03755

Office: Remsen 524A
Phone: 603-650-6557
Fax: 603-650-1129
Email: michael.sporn@dartmouth.edu

Assistant: Caitlin Kivler
Asst. Phone: 603-650-6559
Asst. Email: Caitlin.Kivler@Dartmouth.edu

Professional Interests:

Chemoprevention of cancer, especially by retinoids, rexinoids, and other ligands of the steroid receptor superfamily; peptide growth factors, especially transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and its mechanism of action; development of new natural products for prevention of cancer. Synthetic triterpenoids and rexinoids (RXR ligand) as anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-carcinogenic agents.

Dr. Sporn completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard College, majoring in biology, in 1952. He received his M.D. at the University of Rochester in 1959. Dr. Sporn then began his research career at the National Institutes of Health, where, in 1970, he was made the Head of the Lung Cancer Unit. In 1978 he became Chief of the Laboratory of Chemoprevention, where he remained until 1995, when he came to Dartmouth Medical School as the Oscar M. Cohn '34 Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine.

Triterpenoids of an ursane or oleanane structure are widely distributed in nature, occurring in hundreds of plants all over the world. Many such structures have interesting biological, pharmacological, or medicinal activities, similar to those of retinoids and steroids, including inhibition of carcinogenesis and induction of differentiation in leukemia or teratocarcinoma cells. Ursanes and oleananes belong to a larger family of related terpenoids, many of which are ligands for the steroid receptor superfamily, such as retinoids and classical steroids.

In collaboration with Professor Gordon Gribble in the Department of Chemistry, we are studying ursanes and oleananes that are more polar than the common parent substances, ursolic acid and oleanolic acid. The goal of these studies is to understand the mechanism of action of triterpenoids, and also to develop new agents for prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases. One of the new synthetic triterpenoids that has been made for the first time in the Department of Chemistry is now in clinical trials for the treatment of advanced diabetic kidney disease. Karen Liby, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, is a key collaborator in the Sporn Lab

Selected Publications:


The rexinoids LG100268 and LG101506 inhibit inflammation and suppress lung carcinogenesis in A/J mice.
Cao M, Royce DB, Risingsong R, Williams CR, Sporn MB, Liby KT
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2015 Nov 10; pii: canprevres.0325.2015. Epub 2015 Nov 10.
PMID: 26554632

Novel synthetic pyridyl analogues of CDDO-Imidazolide are useful new tools in cancer prevention.
Cao M, Onyango EO, Williams CR, Royce DB, Gribble GW, Sporn MB, Liby KT
Pharmacol Res. 2015 Oct;100:135-47. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2015.07.024. Epub 2015 Jul 31.
PMID: 26238177

Dimethyl fumarate and the oleanane triterpenoids, CDDO-imidazolide and CDDO-methyl ester, both activate the Nrf2 pathway but have opposite effects in the A/J model of lung carcinogenesis.
To C, Ringelberg CS, Royce DB, Williams CR, Risingsong R, Sporn MB, Liby KT
Carcinogenesis. 2015 Jul;36(7):769-81. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgv061. Epub 2015 May 4.
PMID: 25939751

PARP inhibitors for chemoprevention--reply.
To C, Sporn MB, Liby KT
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Nov;7(11):1172. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0264.
PMID: 25368012

A synthetic triterpenoid CDDO-Im inhibits tumorsphere formation by regulating stem cell signaling pathways in triple-negative breast cancer.
So JY, Lin JJ, Wahler J, Liby KT, Sporn MB, Suh N
PLoS One. 2014;9(9):e107616. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107616. Epub 2014 Sep 17.
PMID: 25229616

An efficient synthesis of methyl 2-cyano-3,12-dioxoursol-1,9-dien-28-oate (CDDU-methyl ester): analogues, biological activities, and comparison with oleanolic acid derivatives.
Fu L, Lin QX, Liby KT, Sporn MB, Gribble GW
Org Biomol Chem. 2014 Jul 28;12(28):5192-200. doi: 10.1039/c4ob00679h.
PMID: 24915424

The PARP inhibitors, veliparib and olaparib, are effective chemopreventive agents for delaying mammary tumor development in BRCA1-deficient mice.
To C, Kim EH, Royce DB, Williams CR, Collins RM, Risingsong R, Sporn MB, Liby KT
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Jul;7(7):698-707. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0047. Epub 2014 May 9.
PMID: 24817481

Complete protection against aflatoxin B(1)-induced liver cancer with a triterpenoid: DNA adduct dosimetry, molecular signature, and genotoxicity threshold.
Johnson NM, Egner PA, Baxter VK, Sporn MB, Wible RS, Sutter TR, Groopman JD, Kensler TW, Roebuck BD
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Jul;7(7):658-65. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0430. Epub 2014 Mar 24.
PMID: 24662598

Synthesis and biological evaluation of amino acid methyl ester conjugates of 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oic acid against the production of nitric oxide (NO).
Onyango EO, Fu L, Cao M, Liby KT, Sporn MB, Gribble GW
Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2014 Jan 15;24(2):532-4. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.12.034. Epub 2013 Dec 15.
PMID: 24388806

The Nrf2 triterpenoid activator, CDDO-imidazolide, protects kidneys from ischemia-reperfusion injury in mice.
Liu M, Reddy NM, Higbee EM, Potteti HR, Noel S, Racusen L, Kensler TW, Sporn MB, Reddy SP, Rabb H
Kidney Int. 2014 Jan;85(1):134-41. doi: 10.1038/ki.2013.357. Epub 2013 Oct 2.
PMID: 24088953