Malcolm F. G. Stevens

University of Nottingham, Nottigham, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (278)772.75 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The pentacyclic acridinium salt RHPS4 (3,11-difluoro-6,8,13-trimethyl-8H-quino [4,3,2-kl] acridinium methosulfate, compound 1) is one of the most interesting DNA G-quadruplex binding molecules due to its high efficacy in tumor cell growth inhibition both in in vitro models and in vivo against human tumor xenografts in combination with conventional chemotherapeutics. Despite compound 1 having desirable chemical and pharmaceutical properties, its potential as a therapeutic agent is compromised by off-target effects on cardiovascular physiology. In this paper we report a new series of structurally-related compounds which were developed in an attempt to minimize its off-target profile, but maintaining the same favorable chemical and pharmacological features of the lead compound. By performing a comparative analysis it was possible to identify which derivatives had the following properties: (i) to show a reduced capacity in respect to compound 1 to inhibit the hERG tail current tested in a patch clamp assay and/or to interact with the human recombinant ß2 receptor; (ii) to maintain both a good G4-binding affinity and cancer cell selectivity; and (iii) to trigger DNA damage with specific telomere uncapping. These studies allowed us to identify a novel G4-stabilizing molecule, compound 8, being characterized by reduced off-target effects and potent telomere on-target properties compared to the prototypic compound 1. Moreover, compound 8 shares with compound 1 the same molecular mode of action and an anti-tumour activity specifically restricted to replicating cells, as evident with its particularly efficient activity in combination therapy with a topoisomerase I inhibitor. In conclusion, we have identified a new pentacyclic derivative 8 having suitable properties to be the focus of further investigations as a clinical candidate for cancer therapy.
    Journal of experimental & clinical cancer research : CR. 10/2014; 33(1):81.
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    ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) treatment includes temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy. O6-Methylguanine lesions are repaired by methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT). Response to TMZ requires low MGMT and functional mismatch repair (MMR); resistance, conferred by MGMT or MMR deficiency, represents a barrier to successful treatment. TMZ analogs were synthesized, substituting N3-methyl with propargyl ( 1 ) or sulfoxide ( 2 ). MTT assays were conducted in SNB19 and U373 isogenic glioma cell lines (V = vector control; M = MGMT-transfected). TMZ potency was reduced >5-fold in SNB19M and U373M cells; in contrast, MGMT-expressing cells were equisensitive as vector controls to analogs 1 and 2 . GI50 values <50 μM of analogs 1 or 2 were detected in V cells possessing acquired TMZ resistance: SNB19VR (hMSH6 loss) and U373VR (MGMT upregulation). Analogs 1 and 2 inhibited MMR-deficient colorectal carcinoma cell growth (irrespective of p53); G2/M cell cycle arrest preceded apoptosis. γH2AX foci inferred the generation of DNA double-strand breaks by analogs 1 and 2 . Acridine orange-stained vesicles, intracellular punctate GFP-LC3 protein and double-membraned autophagosomes indicate that TMZ, 1 and 2 induce autophagy in apoptotis-resistant GBM cells. Analogs 1 and 2 elicit in vitro antitumor activity irrespective of MGMT, MMR and p53. Such imidazotetrazines may treat MGMT+ GBM and possess broader spectrum activity causing apoptosis and autophagy in malignancies which evade apoptosis. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.
    Oncology 09/2014; 88(1):28-48. · 2.17 Impact Factor
  • David Cousin, Malcolm F. G. Stevens, Marc G. Hummersone
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    ABSTRACT: An efficient synthesis of 4-oxo-3,4-dihydroimidazo[5,1-d][1,2,3,5]tetrazine-8-carboxamide (nor-temozolomide) and in situ generation of the anion of nor-temozolomide from an N-3-hydroxymethyl derivative of temozolomide are reported. Alkylation of the anion of nor-temozolomide with methyl iodide gave a new route to temozolomide avoiding the use of methyl isocyanate. A series of new 3-substituted analogues of temozolomide were also prepared by electrophilic substitution of the nor-temozolomide anion but this approach is so far restricted to certain electrophiles.
    Medicinal Chemistry Communication 10/2012; 3(11):1419-1422. · 2.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Quinols have been developed as a class of potential anti-cancer compounds. They are thought to act as double Michael acceptors, forming two covalent bonds to their target protein(s). Quinols have also been shown to have activity against the parasite Trypanosoma brucei, the causative organism of human African trypanosomiasis, but they demonstrated little selectivity over mammalian MRC5 cells in a counter-screen. In this paper, we report screening of further examples of quinols against T. brucei. We were able to derive an SAR, but the compounds demonstrated little selectivity over MRC5 cells. In an approach to increase selectivity, we attached melamine and benzamidine motifs to the quinols, because these moieties are known to be selectively concentrated in the parasite by transporter proteins. In general these transporter motif-containing analogues showed increased selectivity; however they also showed reduced levels of potency against T. brucei.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 02/2012; 20(4):1607-15. · 2.82 Impact Factor
  • Jihong Zhang, Malcolm F G Stevens, Tracey D Bradshaw
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    ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common aggressive adult primary tumour of the central nervous system. Treatment includes surgery, radiotherapy and adjuvant temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy. TMZ is an alkylating agent prodrug, delivering a methyl group to purine bases of DNA (O6-guanine; N7-guanine and N3-adenine). The primary cytotoxic lesion, O6-methylguanine (O6-MeG) can be removed by methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT; direct repair) in tumours expressing this protein, or tolerated in mismatch repair-deficient (MMR-) tumours. Thus MGMT or MMR deficiency confers resistance to TMZ. Inherent- and acquired resistance to TMZ present major obstacles to successful treatment. Strategies devised to thwart resistance and enhance response to TMZ, including inhibition of DNA repair mechanisms which contribute to TMZ resistance, are under clinical evaluation. Depletion of MGMT prior to alkylating agent chemotherapy prevents O6-MeG repair; thus, MGMT pseudosubstrates O6-benzylguanine and lomeguatrib are able to sensitise tumours to TMZ. Disruption of base excision repair (BER) results in persistence of potentially lethal N7- and N3- purine lesions contributing significantly to TMZ cytoxicity particularly when O6-MeG adducts are repaired or tolerated. Several small molecule inhibitors of poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase-1 (PARP-1), a critical BER protein are yielding promising results clinically, both in combination with TMZ and as single agent chemotherapy in patients whose tumours possess homologous recombination DNA repair defects. Another validated, but as yet preclinical protein target, mandatory to BER is abasic (AP) endonuclease-1 (APE-1); in preclinical tests, APE-1 inhibition potentiates TMZ activity. An alternative strategy is synthesis of a molecule, evoking an irrepairable cytotoxic O6-G lesion. Preliminary efforts to achieve this goal are described.
    Current Molecular Pharmacology 11/2011; 5(1):102-14.
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    ABSTRACT: Both 2-(4-amino-3-methylphenyl)-5-fluorobenzothiazole (5F-203; NSC 703786) and 2-(3,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-5-fluorobenzothiazole (GW-610; NSC 721648) are antitumor agents with novel mechanism(s). Previous studies have indicated that cytochrome (CYP) P450 1A1 is crucial for 5F-203 activity. In the present study, we investigated the functional role of 2 newly identified CYP P450 enzymes, CYP2S1 and CYP2W1, in mediating antitumor activity of benzothiazole compounds. We generated isogenic breast cancer (MDA-MB-468, MCF-7) and colorectal cancer (CRC; KM12 and HCC2998) cell lines depleted for CYP1A1, CYP2S1, or CYP2W1. The sensitivity of these cells to 5F-203 and GW-610 was then compared with vector control cells. 5F-203 exhibited potent activity against breast cancer cells, whereas GW-610 was effective against both breast and colorectal cancer cells. CYP1A1 was induced in both breast cancer and CRC cells, while CYP2S1 and CYP2W1 were selectively induced in breast cancer cells only following treatment with 5F-203 or GW-610. Depletion of CYP1A1 abrogated the sensitivity of breast cancer and CRC cells to 5F-203 and GW-610. Although depletion of CYP2S1 sensitized both breast cancer and CRC cells toward 5F-203 and GW-610, CYP2W1 knockdown caused marked resistance to GW-610 in CRC cells. Our results indicate that CYP-P450 isoforms, with the exception of CYP1A1, play an important role in mediating benzothiazole activity. CYP2S1 appears to be involved in deactivation of benzothiazoles, whereas CYP2W1 is important for bioactivation of GW-610 in CRC cells. Because CYP2W1 is highly expressed in colorectal tumors, GW-610 represents a promising agent for CRC therapy.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 08/2011; 10(10):1982-92. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Resistance to temozolomide (TMZ), conferred by O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) or mismatch repair (MMR) deficiency, presents obstacles to successful glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) treatment. Activities of novel TMZ analogs, designed to overcome resistance, were tested against isogenic SNB19 and U373 GBM cell lines (V = vector control, low MGMT; M = MGMT overexpression). TMZ and triazene MTIC demonstrated >9-fold resistance in SNB19M cells (cf SNB19V). N-3 methyl ester analog 11 and corresponding triazene 12 inhibited growth of TMZ-sensitive (V) and TMZ-resistant (M) cells (GI(50) <50 μM). Ethyl ester 13 and triazene 14 gave similar profiles. MMR-deficient colorectal carcinoma cells, resistant to TMZ (GI(50) >500 μM), responded to analog 11 and 13 treatment. Cross-resistance to these agents was not observed in cell lines possessing acquired TMZ resistance (SNB19VR; U373VR). Methyl ester 11 blocked SNB19V, SNB19M and SNB19VR cells in S and G(2)/M, causing dose- and time-dependent apoptosis. DNA damage, recruiting excision repair was detected by alkaline comet assay; H2AX phosphorylation indicated a lethal DNA double-strand break formation following analog 11 exposure. Compounds 11 and 13 demonstrated 3.7- and 5.1-fold enhanced activity in base excision repair-deficient Chinese hamster ovary cells; furthermore, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 inhibition potentiated HCT-116 cells' sensitivity to analog 11. In conclusion, analogs 11 and 13 exert anticancer activity irrespective of MGMT and MMR.
    Oncology 07/2011; 80(3-4):195-207. · 2.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A series of pyrazolo-as-triazines have been screened for tumour-inhibitory activity against sarcoma S 180 in mice and a methylcholanthrene-induced tumour in rats. The antitumour activities of ethyl 4-aminopyrazolo[3,2-c]-as-triazine-3-carboxylate (Ig), 6-acetyl- and 6-iodoacetyl-3-methyl-4-methylenepyrazolo[3,2-c]-as-triazine (IIa and IIb respectively) against sarcoma S 180 exceed the inhibitory activity of 6-mercaptopurine against the same tumour.
    Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 04/2011; 18(S1):1S - 4S.
  • Fitzroy D. Eddy, Keith Vaughan, Malcolm F. G. Stevens
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    ABSTRACT: Several synthetic routes to anthraniloylanthranilamide (6) are described; the problems involved in o-aminobenzoylation reactions are explored. Reduction of N-(o-nitrobenzoyl)anthranilamide by stannous chloride gave a low yield of 6, which was also obtained in low yield by reaction of isatoic anhydride with o-aminobenzamide. The possible use of O-(o-aminobenzoyl)hydroxylamines for o-aminobenzoylation was investigated but proved impractical. Diazotisation of 6 affords 3-(o-carbamoylphenyl)-1,2,3-benzotriazin-4(3H)-one (2), which undergoes base-catalysed cyclisation to the quinazolino[3,2-c]benzotriazine (4). The conversion 2 → 4 probably involves the isomeric quinazolino[1,2-c]benzotriazine (3), which could not be isolated.
    Canadian Journal of Chemistry 02/2011; 56(12):1616-1620. · 0.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We previously reported that the G-quadruplex (G4) ligand RHPS4 potentiates the antitumor activity of camptothecins both in vitro and in tumor xenografts. The present study aims at investigating the mechanisms involved in this specific drug interaction. Combination index test was used to evaluate the interaction between G4 ligands and standard or novel Topo I inhibitors. Chromatin immunoprecipitation was performed to study the presence at telomeres of various types of topisomerase, while immunolabeling experiments were performed to measure the activation of DNA damage both in vitro and in tumor xenografts. We report that integration of the Topo I inhibitor SN-38, but not the Topo II poison doxorubicin with telomere-based therapy is strongly effective and the sequence of drug administration is critical in determining the synergistic interaction, impairing the cell ability to recover from drug-induced cytotoxicity. The synergistic effect of this combination was also observed by using novel camptothecins and, more interestingly, mice treated with ST1481/RHPS4 combination showed an inhibition and delay of tumor growth as well as an increased survival. The study of the mechanism(s) revealed that treatment with G4 ligands increased Topo I at the telomeres and the functional relevance of this observation was directly assessed by showing that standard and novel camptothecins stabilized DNA damage both in vitro and in xenografts. Our results demonstrate an outstanding efficacy of Topo I inhibitors/G4 ligands combination, which likely reflects an enhanced and persistent activation of DNA damage response as a critical determinant of the therapeutic improvement.
    Clinical Cancer Research 02/2011; 17(8):2227-36. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Better drugs are urgently needed for the treatment of African sleeping sickness. We tested a series of promising anticancer agents belonging to the 4-substituted 4-hydroxycyclohexa-2,5-dienones class ("quinols") and identified several with potent trypanocidal activity (EC(50) < 100 nM). In mammalian cells, quinols are proposed to inhibit the thioredoxin/thioredoxin reductase system, which is absent from trypanosomes. Studies with the prototypical 4-benzothiazole-substituted quinol, PMX464, established that PMX464 is rapidly cytocidal, similar to the arsenical drug, melarsen oxide. Cell lysis by PMX464 was accelerated by addition of sublethal concentrations of glucose oxidase implicating oxidant defenses in the mechanism of action. Whole cells treated with PMX464 showed a loss of trypanothione (T(SH)(2)), a unique dithiol in trypanosomes, and tryparedoxin peroxidase (TryP), a 2-Cys peroxiredoxin similar to mammalian thioredoxin peroxidase. Enzyme assays revealed that T(SH)(2), TryP, and a glutathione peroxidase-like tryparedoxin-dependent peroxidase were inhibited in time- and concentration-dependent manners. The inhibitory activities of various quinol analogues against these targets showed a good correlation with growth inhibition of Trypanosoma brucei. The monothiols glutathione and L-cysteine bound in a 2:1 ratio with PMX464 with K(d) values of 6 and 27 μM, respectively, whereas T(SH)(2) bound more tightly in a 1:1 ratio with a K(d) value of 430 nM. Overexpression of trypanothione synthetase in T. brucei decreased sensitivity to PMX464 indicating that the key metabolite T(SH)(2) is a target for quinols. Thus, the quinol pharmacophore represents a novel lead structure for the development of a new drug against African sleeping sickness.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2011; 286(10):8523-33. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: New anti-telomere strategies represent important goals for the development of selective cancer therapies. In this study, we reported that uncapped telomeres, resulting from pharmacological stabilization of quadruplex DNA by RHPS4 (3,11-difluoro-6,8,13-trimethyl-8H-quino[4,3,2-kl]acridinium methosulfate), trigger specific recruitment and activation of poly-adenosine diphosphate (ADP) ribose polymerase I (PARP1) at the telomeres, forming several ADP-ribose polymers that co-localize with the telomeric repeat binding factor 1 protein and are inhibited by selective PARP(s) inhibitors or PARP1-specific small interfering RNAs. The knockdown of PARP1 prevents repairing of RHPS4-induced telomere DNA breaks, leading to increases in chromosome abnormalities and eventually to the inhibition of tumor cell growth both in vitro and in xenografts. More interestingly, the integration of a TOPO1 inhibitor on the combination treatment proved to have a high therapeutic efficacy ensuing a complete regression of the tumor as well as a significant increase in overall survival and cure of mice even when treatments started at a very late stage of tumor growth. Overall, this work reveals the unexplored link between the PARP1 and G-quadruplex ligands and demonstrates the excellent efficacy of a multi-component strategy based on the use of PARP inhibitors in telomere-based therapy.
    Oncogene 11/2010; 29(47):6280-93. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Thioredoxin (Trx) plays a critical role in the regulation of cellular redox homeostasis. Many disease causing pathogens rely on the Trx redox system for survival in conditions of environmental stress. The Trx redox system has been implicated in the resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) to phagocytosis. Trx is able to reduce a variety of target substrates and reactive oxygen species (ROS) through the cyclization of its active site dithiol to the oxidized disulphide Cys37-Cys40. Here we report the crystal structure of the Mtb Trx C active site mutant C40S (MtbTrxCC40S) in isolation and in complex with the hydroxycyclohexadienone inhibitor PMX464. We observe PMX464 is covalently bound to the active site residue Cys37 through Michael addition of the cyclohexadienone ring and also forms noncovalent contacts which mimic the binding of natural Trx ligands. In comparison with the ligand free MtbTrxCC40S structure a conformational change occurs in the PMX464 complex involving movement of helix α2 and the active site loop. These changes are almost identical to those observed for helix α2 in human Trx ligand complexes. Whereas the ligand free structure forms a homodimer the inhibitor complex unexpectedly forms a different dimer with one PMX464 molecule bound at the interface. This 2:1 MtbTrxCC40S-PMX464 complex is also observed using mass spectrometry measurements. This structure provides an unexpected scaffold for the design of improved Trx inhibitors targeted at developing treatments for tuberculosis.
    Protein Science 10/2010; 20(1):210-5. · 2.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 4-Ethynyl-4-hydroxycyclohexa-2,5-dien-1-one 5 undergoes cycloaddition reactions with a range of substituted azides in the presence of copper salts to form 1,4-disubstituted triazoles 8-11 bearing the 4-hydroxycyclohexa-2,5-dien-1-one (quinol) pharmacophore; one example of an isomeric 1,5-disubstituted triazole 12 was formed from 5 and benzyl azide in the presence of a ruthenium catalyst. Compounds were screened for growth-inhibitory activity against five cancer cell lines of colon, breast and lung origin, but were overall less potent than the benzothiazolyl- and indolyl-substituted quinols 2 and 3.
    Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry 05/2010; 8(9):2078-84. · 3.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Treatment for glioblastoma multiforme includes the alkylating agent temozolomide combined with ionizing radiation. Persistent O6-guanine methylation by temozolomide in O6-methylguanine methyl transferase negative tumors causes cytotoxic lesions recognized by DNA mismatch repair, triggering apoptosis. Resistance (intrinsic or acquired) presents obstacles to successful temozolomide treatment, limiting drug efficacy and life expectancy. Two glioma cell lines, SNB19 and U373, sensitive to temozolomide (GI(50) values 36 and 68 microM, respectively) were exposed to increasing temozolomide concentrations (1-100 microM). Variant cell lines (SNB19VR, U373VR) were generated that displayed acquired temozolomide resistance (GI(50) values 280 and 289 microM, respectively). Cross-resistance to mitozolomide was observed in U373VR cells only. In clonogenic and MTT assays, methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT) depletion using O6-benzylguanine sensitized U373VR cells to temozolomide, indicating the resistance mechanism involves MGMT re-expression. Indeed, Western blot analyses revealed MGMT protein in cell lysates. In SNB19VR cells, down-regulation of MSH6 message and protein expression may confer temozolomide tolerance. Inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (a key base excision repair (BER) enzyme) partially restored sensitivity, and DNA repair gene arrays demonstrated up-regulation (>5-fold) of BER gene NTL1 in SNB19VR cells. In conclusion, we have developed two glioma cell lines whose distinct mechanisms of acquired resistance to temozolomide, involving expression of MGMT, or inactivation of DNA mismatch repair and recruitment of BER enzymes, are consistent with clinical observations. These cell lines provide valuable models for the development of strategies to combat temozolomide resistance.
    Oncology 03/2010; 78(2):103-14. · 2.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    ChemInform 01/2010; 31(28).
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    ChemInform 01/2010; 25(43).
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    ChemInform 01/2010; 31(31).
  • Alison W. Seton, Malcolm F. G. Stevens, Andrew D. Westwell
    ChemInform 01/2010; 33(23).
    ChemInform 01/2010; 29(27).

Publication Stats

3k Citations
772.75 Total Impact Points


  • 1993–2012
    • University of Nottingham
      • • School of Pharmacy
      • • Centre for Biomolecular Sciences (CBS)
      Nottigham, England, United Kingdom
  • 2011
    • Heriot-Watt University
      Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 2004–2010
    • Istituto Regina Elena - Istituti Fisioterapici Ospitalieri
      Roma, Latium, Italy
    • Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin
      • Research Team Experimental Pharmacology
      Berlin, Land Berlin, Germany
  • 1979–2010
    • Aston University
      • • Pharmaceutical Sciences
      • • Department of Pharmacy
      Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
  • 2009
    • The School of Pharmacy
      • School of Pharmacy
      Nottigham, England, United Kingdom
  • 2006–2008
    • Cardiff University
      Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
    • National Cancer Centre Singapore
      • Department of Medical Sciences
  • 2007
    • Putra University, Malaysia
      • Faculty of Medicine and Health Science
      Klang, Selangor, Malaysia
  • 2003–2004
    • Dow Pharmaceutical Sciences
      Petaluma, California, United States
  • 2000
    • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
      Buffalo, New York, United States
  • 1999
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Program of Developmental Therapeutics
      Bethesda, MD, United States
  • 1990
    • MRC National Institute for Medical Research
      • Division of Molecular Structure
      London, ENG, United Kingdom
    • University of Southampton
      Southampton, England, United Kingdom