Melflufen - a peptidase-potentiated alkylating agent in clinical trials

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Melflufen - a peptidase-potentiated alkylating agent in clinical trials

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Title: Melflufen - a peptidase-potentiated alkylating agent in clinical trials
Author: Wickström, Malin; Nygren, Peter; Larsson, Rolf; Harmenberg, Johan; Lindberg, Jakob; Sjöberg, Per; Jerling, Markus; Lehmann, Fredrik; Richardson, Paul; Anderson, Kenneth; Chauhan, Dharminder; Gullbo, Joachim

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Wickström, M., P. Nygren, R. Larsson, J. Harmenberg, J. Lindberg, P. Sjöberg, M. Jerling, et al. 2017. “Melflufen - a peptidase-potentiated alkylating agent in clinical trials.” Oncotarget 8 (39): 66641-66655. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.18420.
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Abstract: Aminopeptidases like aminopeptidase N (APN, also known as CD13) play an important role not only in normal cellular functioning but also in the development of cancer, including processes like tumor cell invasion, differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis, motility, and angiogenesis. An increased expression of APN has been described in several types of human malignancies, especially those characterized by fast-growing and aggressive phenotypes, suggesting APN as a potential therapeutic target. Melphalan flufenamide ethyl ester (melflufen, previously denoted J1) is a peptidase-potentiated alkylating agent. Melflufen readily penetrates membranes and an equilibrium is rapidly achieved, followed by enzymatic cleavage in aminopeptidase positive cells, which results in trapping of less lipophilic metabolites. This targeting effect results in very high intracellular concentrations of its metabolite melphalan and subsequent apoptotic cell death. This results in a potency increase (melflufen vs melphalan) ranging from 10- to several 100-fold in different in vitro models. Melflufen triggers a rapid, robust, and an irreversible DNA damage which may account for its ability to overcome melphalan-resistance in multiple myeloma cells. Furthermore, anti-angiogenic properties of melflufen have been described. Consequently, it is hypothesized that melflufen could provide better efficacy but no more toxicity than what is achieved with melphalan, an assumption so far supported by experiences from hollow fiber and xenograft studies in rodents as well as by clinical data from patients with solid tumors and multiple myeloma. This review summarizes the current preclinical and clinical knowledge of melflufen.
Published Version: doi:10.18632/oncotarget.18420
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