Targeted chemotherapy is a modern approach aimed at increasing the efficacy of systemic chemotherapy and reducing its side effects. The peptide receptors expressed primarily on cancerous cells can serve as targets for a selective destruction of malignant tumors. Binding sites for LHRH (now known in genome and microarray databases as GNRH1), were found on 52% of human breast cancers, about 80% of human ovarian and endometrial cancers, and 86% of human prostatic carcinoma specimens. Because LHRH receptors are not expressed on most normal tissues, they represent a specific target for cancer chemotherapy with antineoplastic agents linked to an LHRH vector molecule. To test the efficacy of targeted chemotherapy based on LHRH analogs, we recently developed a cytotoxic analog of LHRH, designated AN-152, which consists of [d-Lys6]LHRH covalently linked to one of the most widely used chemotherapeutic agents, doxorubicin (DOX). In addition, we designed and synthesized a highly active derivative of DOX, 2-pyrrolino-DOX (AN-201), which is 500–1000 times more potent than DOX in vitro. AN-201 is active against tumors resistant to DOX, and noncardiotoxic. As in the case of DOX, AN-201 was coupled to carrier peptide [d-Lys6]LHRH to form a superactive targeted cytotoxic LHRH analog, AN-207. Both AN-152 and AN-207 can effectively inhibit the growth of LHRH receptor-positive human breast, ovarian, endometrial, and prostate cancers xenografted into nude mice. DOX-containing cytotoxic LHRH analog AN-152 is scheduled for clinical phase I/IIa trials in patients with advanced ovarian and breast cancers in 2005.
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