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Radiat Res. 1992 Nov;132(2):129-39.

Failla Memorial Lecture. Redox, radiation, and reductive bioactivation.

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MRC Radiobiology Unit, Didcot, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom.


A brief review is presented of the background to, and the principles involved in, the development of redox-sensitive drugs for use in cancer therapy. The role of redox processes in the action of various types of radiosensitizers and in the activation of bioreductive drugs is described. The mechanisms by which many simple hypoxic cell radiosensitizers act are believed to involve fast electron transfer processes involving DNA. Some of these agents can also function as hypoxic cell cytotoxins, although the mechanisms involved are different. These "bioreductive drugs" are activated by intracellular metabolic reduction mediated through various cellular reductases. Usually, though not always, bioreduction is favored under hypoxic conditions, and this is why many of these compounds display differential cytotoxicity to hypoxic cells. This is one of the rationales for selectivity in solid tumors. The potencies of both hypoxic cell radiosensitizers and bioreductive drugs are strongly correlated with their electron affinities. Classes of bioreductive agents of current interest are described briefly. These include simple and dual-function nitroheterocycles including the highly potent compound RB-6145, quinone-based drugs including analogues of mitomycin C, and heterocyclic compounds containing N-oxide functions. The study of bioreductive agents for potential use as adjuncts for various approaches to cancer treatment is described.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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