Actinomycin D (Act D) is a natural chemopeptide which are isolated from the bacteria Streptomyces. Amongst Streptomyces bacteria, Streptomyces parvulus produces Act D with the highest antibiotic activities. It is also known as Dactinomycin or Actinomycin C1. The discovery of Actinomycin was in 1949 by Selman Waksman. Act D serves as an antibiotic, aside from the antibiotic purpose, it has been introduced as a cancer therapy.
The toxicity of Act D is as a result of its interaction with DNA helices. It combines with the minor groove of the helix and joins two guanine-cytosine base pair through 2-aminophenazone unit, hence forming a very stable Act D-DNA complex through H-bonding. For instance, H-bonds are formed between the amino group of the backbone of deoxyribose phosphate ring and the phenoxazone. Due to stability created by H-bond, it makes it difficult for the polymerase to displace Act D from DNA cord.
Clinically, Actinomycin D is administered intravenously in form of Cosmegen® which is a mixture of 0.5 mg Act D and 20.0 mg mannitol per vial. Actinomycin D is used for the treatment of solid tumors, the tumor of the kidney (Wilms´ tumor), rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer of skeletal muscle) and Ewing´s sarcoma (cancer of the bone) but ineffective on leukemia.
Fermentek offers a large scale of actinomycin D produced by microbial fermentation method from Streptomyces SP. It is formulated into red shiny crystal with a melting point range of 245 – 260 ᵒC, soluble in acetonitrile or acetone, it is hygroscopic and light-sensitive. It can be used as a reference material to calibrate instrument and methods, it also is used for diagnostic purposes, suppressing HIV-replication and programmed cell death of PC12 cells, and as an antibiotic in the treatment of various malignant neoplasms, including a Wilm′s tumor and the sarcomas. It is a very important research tool for biomarkers in cancer research.