Hyperexcitation in the central nervous system is the root cause of a number of disorders of the brain ranging from acute injury to chronic and progressive diseases. The major limitation to treatment of these ailments is the miniscule, yet formidable blood-brain barrier. To deliver therapeutic agents to the site of desired action, a number of biomedical engineering strategies have been developed including prodrug formulations that allow for either passive diffusion or active transport across this barrier. In the case of prodrugs, once in the brain compartment, the active therapeutic agent is released. In this review, we discuss in some detail a number of factors related to treatment of central nervous system hyperexcitation including molecular targets, disorders, prodrug strategies, and focused case studies of a number of therapeutics that are at a variety of stages of clinical development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is estimated that about 10% of the drugs approved worldwide can be classified as prodrugs. Prodrugs, which have no or poor biological activity, are chemically modified versions of a pharmacologically active agent, which must undergo transformation in vivo to release the active drug. They are designed in order to improve the physicochemical, biopharmaceutical and/or pharmacokinetic properties of pharmacologically potent compounds. This article describes the basic functional groups that are amenable to prodrug design, and highlights the major applications of the prodrug strategy, including the ability to improve oral absorption and aqueous solubility, increase lipophilicity, enhance active transport, as well as achieve site-selective delivery. Special emphasis is given to the role of the prodrug concept in the design of new anticancer therapies, including antibody-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (ADEPT) and gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (GDEPT).
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