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J Med Chem. 2013 Apr 11;56(7):2911-35. doi: 10.1021/jm301882a. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

GC-targeted C8-linked pyrrolobenzodiazepine-biaryl conjugates with femtomolar in vitro cytotoxicity and in vivo antitumor activity in mouse models.

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Department of Pharmacy, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, United Kingdom.


DNA binding 4-(1-methyl-1H-pyrrol-3-yl)benzenamine (MPB) building blocks have been developed that span two DNA base pairs with a strong preference for GC-rich DNA. They have been conjugated to a pyrrolo[2,1-c][1,4]benzodiazepine (PBD) molecule to produce C8-linked PBD-MPB hybrids that can stabilize GC-rich DNA by up to 13-fold compared to AT-rich DNA. Some have subpicomolar IC50 values in human tumor cell lines and in primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells, while being up to 6 orders less cytotoxic in the non-tumor cell line WI38, suggesting that key DNA sequences may be relevant targets in these ultrasensitive cancer cell lines. One conjugate, 7h (KMR-28-39), which has femtomolar activity in the breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231, has significant dose-dependent antitumor activity in MDA-MB-231 (breast) and MIA PaCa-2 (pancreatic) human tumor xenograft mouse models with insignificant toxicity at therapeutic doses. Preliminary studies suggest that 7h may sterically inhibit interaction of the transcription factor NF-κB with its cognate DNA binding sequence.

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