Progress towards hypoxia-activated SN-38: the potential to target hypoxic tumors

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Liang, Dinghua
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Bentham Science
Solid tumors are commonly subject to hypoxia. Hypoxic cancer cells have undesirable properties such as a high tendency to metastasize and resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) respond to the changes in oxygen levels, orchestrating the transcription of many proteins that are vital for the survival of hypoxic cancer cells. With their parent drug SN-38 as an inhibitor of both topoisomerase 1 and HIF-1, hypoxia-activated SN-38s may have a dual inhibitory effect on hypoxic tumor cells due to hypoxia-targeting and HIF-1 inhibition. To develop hypoxia-activated prodrugs of SN-38; 2-, 3-, and 4-nitrobenzyl SN-38s have been synthesized with good yields (78%, 67% and 68%, respectively). Topoisomerase 1 inhibitory assay on 2- and 4-nitrobenzyl SN-38s and cell viability assay on 2-, 3- and 4-nitrobenzyl SN-38s have been performed. All three derivatives showed less toxicity on K562 cells, which meets the principle of prodrug design. Cyclic voltammetry results suggest that the reduction potentials of these three derivatives may be not high enough for these compounds to be activated. The manner of reduction of three nitrobenzyl SN-38s is quasi-reversible under the testing condition, not against the proposed mechanism of activation. Two new derivatives of SN-38 have been designed to elevate reduction potential and further reduce toxicity. They are to be synthesized and tested for future work.
Hypoxia, Prodrug, Targeted chemotherapy, Bioreductive, Antineoplastic agents
Liang, D.; Miller, G. H.; Tranmer, G. K., Hypoxia Activated Prodrugs: Factors Influencing Design and Development. Curr. Med. Chem. 2015, 22 (37), 4313-4325