Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)

A cell-delivered and cell-activated SN38-dextran prodrug increases survival in a murine disseminated pancreatic cancer model.

PMID 22238072


Enzyme-activated prodrugs have been investigated and sought after as highly specific, low-side-effect treatments, especially for cancer therapy. Unfortunately, excellent targets for enzyme-activated therapy are rare. Here a system based on cell delivery that can carry both a prodrug and an activating enzyme to the cancer site is demonstrated. Raw264.7 cells (mouse monocyte/macrophage-like cells, Mo/Ma) are engineered to express intracellular rabbit carboxylesterase (InCE), which is a potent activator of the prodrug irinotecan to SN38. InCE expression is regulated by the TetOn® system, which silences the gene unless a tetracycline, such as doxycycline, is present. Concurrently, an irinotecan-like prodrug, which is conjugated to dextran and can be loaded into the cytoplasm of Mo/Ma, is synthesized. To test the system, a murine pancreatic cancer model is generated by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of Pan02 cells. Engineered Mo/Ma are loaded with the prodrug and are injected i.p. Two days later, doxycycline was given i.p. to activate InCE, which activated the prodrug. A survival study demonstrates that this system significantly increased survival in a murine pancreatic cancer model. Thus, for the first time, a prodrug/activating enzyme system, which is self-contained within tumor-homing cells and can prolong the life of i.p. pancreatic tumor bearing mice, is demonstrated.