Cover Picture: Design, Synthesis and Bioevaluation of an EphA2 Receptor-Based Targeted Delivery System (ChemMedChem 7/2014)

ChemMedChem (Impact Factor: 2.97). 07/2014; 9(7). DOI: 10.1002/cmdc.201400067
Source: PubMed


Because of its overexpression in a range of solid tumors, the EphA2 receptor is a validated target for cancer therapeutics. We recently described a new targeted delivery system based on specific EphA2-targeting peptides conjugated with the chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel. Here, we investigate the chemical determinants responsible for the stability and degradation of these agents in plasma. Introducing modifications in both the peptide and the linker between the peptide and paclitaxel resulted in drug conjugates that are both long-lived in rat plasma and that markedly decrease tumor size in a prostate cancer xenograft model compared with paclitaxel alone treatment. These studies identify critical rate-limiting degradation sites on the peptide-drug conjugates, enabling the design of agents with increased stability and efficacy. These results provide support for our central hypothesis that peptide-drug conjugates targeting EphA2 represent an innovative and potentially effective strategy to selectively deliver cytotoxic drugs to cancer cells.

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    ABSTRACT: The development of novel, targeted delivery agents for anti-cancer therapies requires the design and optimization of potent and selective tumor-targeting agents that are stable and amenable to conjugation with chemotherapeutic drugs. While short peptides represent potentially an excellent platform for these purposes, they often get degraded and are eliminated too rapidly in vivo. In this study, we used a combination of nuclear magnetic resonance-guided structure-activity relationships along with biochemical and cellular studies to derive a novel tumor-homing agent, named 123B9, targeting the EphA2 tyrosine kinase receptor ligand-binding domain. Conjugating 123B9 to the chemotherapeutic drug paclitaxel (PTX) via a stable linker results in an agent that is significantly more effective than the unconjugated drug in both a pancreatic cancer xenograft model and a melanoma lung colonization and metastases model. Hence, 123B9 could represent a promising strategy for the development of novel targeted therapies for cancer. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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