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Quinone Methides and their Prodrugs: A Subtle Equilibrium Between Cancer Promotion, Prevention, and Cure

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The importance of reactive drug metabolites in the pathogenesis of drug-induced toxicity has been investigated since the early 1950s, mainly to reveal the link between toxic metabolites and chemical carcinogenesis. This review mainly focuses on biologically active compounds, which generate reactive quinone methide (QM) intermediates either directly or after bioactivation. Several examples of anticancer drugs acting through the generation of QM electrophiles are given. The use of those drugs for chemotherapeutic purposes is also discussed. The key feature of those QM-generating drugs is their reactivity toward specific nucleophilic biological targets. Modulation of their reactivity represents a challenge for medicinal chemists because, depending on the reactivity of these QM intermediates, their interaction with critical proteins can alter the function of these key proteins and induce a wide variety of responses with functional consequences. Among the possible consequences, antiproliferative effects could be exploited for chemotherapeutic purposes. Information on how such QM-generating drugs can affect individual target proteins and their functional consequences are required to help the medicinal chemist in the design of more specific QM-generating molecules for chemotherapeutic use.

Keywords: Alkylating agent; DNA; antioxidant pool; cancer; prodrug; thiols

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/092986711796957301

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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