- We report on a short host defense-like peptide that targets and arrests the growth of aggressive and hormone-resistant primary human prostate and breast tumors and prevents their experimental and spontaneous metastases, respectively, when systemically inoculated to immunodeficient mice. These effects are correlated with increased necrosis of the tumor cells and a significant decrease in the overall tumor microvessel density, as well as newly formed capillary tubes and prostate-specific antigen secretion (in prostate tumors). Growth inhibition of orthotopic tumors derived from stably transfected highly fluorescent human breast cancer cells and prevention of their naturally occurring metastases were visualized in real time by using noninvasive whole-body optical imaging. The exclusive selectivity of the peptide towards cancer derives from its specific binding to surface phosphatidylserine and the killing of the cancer cells via cytoplasmic membrane depolarization. These data indicate that membrane disruption can provide a therapeutic means of inhibiting tumor growth and preventing metastases of various cancers.