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Methods Mol Biol. 2010;596:291-323. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-416-6_13.

Drug ratio-dependent antagonism: a new category of multidrug resistance and strategies for its circumvention.

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Celator Pharmaceuticals Corp., Vancouver, BC, Canada.


A newly identified form of multidrug resistance (MDR) in tumor cells is presented, pertaining to the commonly encountered resistance of cancer cells to anticancer drug combinations at discrete drug:drug ratios. In vitro studies have revealed that whether anticancer drug combinations interact synergistically or antagonistically can depend on the ratio of the combined agents. Failure to control drug ratios in vivo due to uncoordinated pharmacokinetics could therefore lead to drug resistance if tumor cells are exposed to antagonistic drug ratios. Consequently, the most efficacious drug combination may not occur at the typically employed maximum tolerated doses of the combined drugs if this leads to antagonistic ratios in vivo after administration and resistance to therapeutic effects of the drug combination. Our approach to systematically screen a wide range of drug ratios and concentrations and encapsulate the drug combination in a liposomal delivery vehicle at identified synergistic ratios represents a means to mitigate this drug ratio-dependent MDR mechanism. The in vivo efficacy of the improved agents (CombiPlex formulations) is demonstrated and contrasted with the decreased efficacy when drug combinations are exposed to tumor cells in vivo at antagonistic ratios.

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