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Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2012 Aug;70(2):321-9. doi: 10.1007/s00280-012-1908-9. Epub 2012 Jul 4.

In vivo antitumor activity of intratumoral fludarabine phosphate in refractory tumors expressing E. coli purine nucleoside phosphorylase.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.



Systemically administered fludarabine phosphate (F-araAMP) slows growth of human tumor xenografts that express Escherichia coli purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP). However, this treatment has been limited by the amount of F-araAMP that can be administered in vivo. The current study was designed to (1) determine whether efficacy of this overall strategy could be improved by intratumoral administration of F-araAMP, (2) test enhancement of the approach with external beam radiation, and (3) optimize recombinant adenovirus as a means to augment PNP delivery and bystander killing in vivo.


The effects of systemic or intratumoral F-araAMP in mice were investigated with human tumor xenografts (300 mg), in which 10 % of the cells expressed E. coli PNP from a lentiviral promoter. Tumors injected with an adenoviral vector expressing E. coli PNP (Ad/PNP; 2 × 10(11) viral particles, 2 times per day × 3 days) and the impact of radiotherapy on tumors treated by this approach were also studied. Radiolabeled F-araAMP was used to monitor prodrug activation in vivo.


Intratumoral administration of F-araAMP in human tumor xenografts expressing E. coli PNP resulted in complete regressions and/or prolonged tumor inhibition. External beam radiation significantly augmented this effect. Injection of large human tumor xenografts (human glioma, nonsmall cell lung cancer, or malignant prostate tumors) with Ad/PNP followed by intratumoral F-araAMP resulted in excellent antitumor activity superior to that observed following systemic administration of prodrug.


Activation of F-araAMP by E. coli PNP results in destruction of large tumor xenografts in vivo, augments radiotherapy, and promotes robust bystander killing. Our results indicate that intratumoral injection of F-araAMP leads to ablation of tumors in vivo with minimal toxicity.

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