The development of camptothecin-like compounds as inhibitors of topoisomerase I for the treatment of resistant tumors has generated clinical excitement in this new class of drugs. We have developed two novel water-soluble camptothecin analogues which are specific inhibitors of topoisomerase I and are potent cytotoxins with significant antitumor activity. We added water-solubilizing groups off position 7 in the B ring of either 10,11-ethylenedioxy- or 10,11-methylenedioxy-20(S)-camptothecin. These water-soluble camptothecin analogues were demonstrated to be nanamolar inhibitors of the topoisomerase I enzyme in the cleavable complex assay. The compounds, GI147211 [7-(4-methylpiperazinomethylene)-10,11-ethylenedioxy-20(S)-camptothecin], and GI149893 [7-(4-methylpiperazinomethylene)-10,11-methylenedioxy-20(S)-camptothecin], were compared to topotecan, a known water-soluble inhibitor of topoisomerase I. Both GI compounds were found to be slightly more potent than topolecan as inhibitors of topoisomerase I in the cleavable complex assay and were 1.5–2 times more soluble. Tumor cell cytotoxicity assays using 5 separate cell lines demonstrated that both GI compounds were 5–10 times more potent than topotecan, although by comparison all three topoisomerase I inhibitors were unaffected by the multidrug resistance P-glycoprotein. The antitumor activity of all three topoisomerase I inhibitors was compared concomitantly in two human colon xenograft models. In both models, GI147211 and GI149893 were able to induce regression of established HT-29 and SW-48 colon tumors by as much as 60%. The antitumor activity of both compounds were also demonstrated in the MX-1 and PC-3 xenografts. Microscopic examination of selected tissues indicated that drug-induced toxicity was primarily limited to the gastrointestinal tract and was comparable among the three compounds. Further clinical development of this class of compounds is ongoing.

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