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The virus-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (VDEPT) anti-cancer 'gene therapy' strategy relies on the use of viral vectors for the efficient delivery to tumour cells of a 'suicide gene' encoding an enzyme which converts a non-toxic prodrug to a cytotoxic agent. The prodrug 5-(aziridin-1-yl)-2,4 dinitrobenzamide, CB1954, has been proposed for use in enzyme-prodrug gene therapy systems with the Escherichia coli enzyme nitroreductase (Ntr). Ntr converts CB1954 to 2- and 4-hydroxylamino derivatives, whereupon the non-enzymatic reaction of the 4-hydroxylamino derivative with cellular thio- esters generates a potent cytotoxic bifunctional alkylating agent capable of cross-linking DNA. Ntr delivery has been achieved in vitro using retroviral and adenoviral vectors and confirmed by immunocytochemical demonstration of Ntr expression. The Ntr-expressing cells have been shown to be sensitized to CB1954 by up to 2000-fold. The Ntr-CB1954 system shows effective bystander killing in mixed populations of Ntr-expressing and non-expressing cells treated with CB1954. The efficacy of this enzyme-prodrug approach in model systems compared with other VDEPT approaches demonstrates the feasibility and future promise of this gene therapy strategy.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Anticancer Drug Des

Publication Date

12/1999

Volume

14

Pages

461 - 472

Keywords

Alkylating Agents, Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating, Aziridines, Biotransformation, Drug Design, Genetic Therapy, Genetic Vectors, Humans, Mice, Nitroreductases, Prodrugs, Rats, Viruses