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Arch Pharm Res. 2002 Apr;25(2):111-36.

Prodrug and antedrug: two diametrical approaches in designing safer drugs.

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  • 1College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee 32307, USA.


The prodrug and antedrug concepts, which were developed to overcome the physical and pharmacological shortcomings of various therapeutic classes of agents, employ diametrically different metabolic transformations. The prodrug undergoes a predictable metabolic activation prior to exhibiting its pharmacological effects in a target tissue while the antedrug undergoes metabolic deactivation in the systemic circulation upon leaving a target tissue. An increased therapeutic index is the aspiration for both approaches in designing as well as evaluation criteria. The recent research endeavors of prodrugs include the gene-directed and antibody-directed enzymatic activation of a molecule in a targeted tissue, organ specific delivery, improved bioavailabilities of nucleosides and cellular penetration of nucleotides. As for antedrugs, emphasis in research has been based upon the design and synthesis of systemically inactive molecule by incorporating a metabolically labile functional group into an active molecule.

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