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Michael B. Sporn, MD

Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Emeritus 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:


Testing Novel Pyrimidinyl Rexinoids: A New Paradigm for Evaluating Rexinoids for Cancer Prevention.
Zhang D, Leal AS, Carapellucci S, Shahani PH, Bhogal JS, Ibrahim S, Raban S, Jurutka PW, Marshall PA, Sporn MB, Wagner CE, Liby KT
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2019 Apr;12(4):211-224. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-18-0317. Epub 2019 Feb 13.
PMID: 30760500

Chemoprevention of Preclinical Breast and Lung Cancer with the Bromodomain Inhibitor I-BET 762.
Zhang D, Leal AS, Carapellucci S, Zydeck K, Sporn MB, Liby KT
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2018 Mar;11(3):143-156. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-17-0264. Epub 2017 Dec 15.
PMID: 29246957

Synthetic oleanane triterpenoids enhance blood brain barrier integrity and improve survival in experimental cerebral malaria.
Crowley VM, Ayi K, Lu Z, Liby KT, Sporn M, Kain KC
Malar J. 2017 Nov 14;16(1):463. doi: 10.1186/s12936-017-2109-0. Epub 2017 Nov 14.
PMID: 29137631

Design, synthesis, and biological activity of second-generation synthetic oleanane triterpenoids.
Fu L, Lin QX, Onyango EO, Liby KT, Sporn MB, Gribble GW
Org Biomol Chem. 2017 Jul 19;15(28):6001-6005. doi: 10.1039/c7ob01420a.
PMID: 28678272

Bromodomain inhibitors, JQ1 and I-BET 762, as potential therapies for pancreatic cancer.
Leal AS, Williams CR, Royce DB, Pioli PA, Sporn MB, Liby KT
Cancer Lett. 2017 May 28;394:76-87. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2017.02.021. Epub 2017 Feb 27.
PMID: 28254412

The triterpenoid CDDO-imidazolide reduces immune cell infiltration and cytokine secretion in the KrasG12D;Pdx1-Cre (KC) mouse model of pancreatic cancer.
Leal AS, Sporn MB, Pioli PA, Liby KT
Carcinogenesis. 2016 Dec;37(12):1170-1179. Epub 2016 Sep 22.
PMID: 27659181

Commentary on Eagle and Foley: "Cytotoxicity in Human Cell Cultures".
Sporn MB
Cancer Res. 2016 Mar 1;76(5):989-90. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-0152.
PMID: 26933164

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). 2016 Jan;9(1):105-14. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-15-0325. 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

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