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Semin Radiat Oncol. 1996 Jan;6(1):22-36.

Hypoxia-Specific Cytotoxins in Cancer Therapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA


Hypoxic-specific cytotoxins are a new, and as yet clinically untested, mode of treatment of solid tumors. If they can be given at high enough concentrations and sufficiently often, they should prove extremely effective both in combination with standard radiotherapy and also with certain chemotherapeutic drugs. It is likely that their optimum use will turn hypoxic cells in solid tumors from a therapeutic disadvantage to an advantage. In this report, we review the rationale for the use of hypoxia- cytotoxins, including both the theoretical basis for combining them with fractionated radiation and the preclinical results that have been obtained to date combing these agents with fractionated radiation. We also discuss the three major classes of bioreductive drugs, including the quinones (mitomycin C, porfiromycin, and E09), notroaromatic compounds (including RB6145 and various deoxyribonucleic acid [DNA] targeted aromatics), and finally the n-oxides of which tirapazamine is the lead compound. We also briefly discuss new approaches to bioreductive drug development. The best ways to use these agents are also covered. These include using them in combination with radiation, in combination with chemotherapy, and in combination with agents that increase tumor hypoxia. Finally, the importance of the selection of patients for clinical trials is illustrated by showing how dramatically the number of patients for clinical trials is illustrated by showing how dramatically the number of patients in a clinical trial has to increase to obtain statistical significance for a procedure targeted towards hypoxic cells if some of the patients in the trials have well-oxygenated tumors.


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