We have identified a novel retinoid, ALRT1550, that potently and selectively activates retinoic acid receptors (RARs). ALRT1550 binds RARs with Kd values of ≅1–4 nm, and retinoid X receptors with low affinities (Kd ≅ 270–556 nm). We studied the effects of ALRT1550 on cellular proliferation in squamous carcinoma cells. ALRT1550 inhibited in vitro proliferation of UMSCC-22B cells in a concentration-dependent manner with an IC50 value of 0.22 ± 0.1 (SE) nm. 9-cis-Retinoic acid (ALRT1057), a pan agonist retinoid that activates RARs and retinoid X receptors, inhibited proliferation with an IC50 value of 81 ± 29 nm. In vivo, as tumor xenografts in nude mice, UMSCC-22B formed well-differentiated squamous carcinomas, and oral administration (daily, 5 days/week) of ALRT1550, begun 3 days after implanting tumor cells, inhibited tumor growth by up to 89% in a dose-dependent manner over the range of 3–75 µg/kg. ALRT1550 (30 µg/kg) also inhibited growth of established tumors by 72 ± 3% when tumors were allowed to grow to ≅100 mm3 before dosing began. In comparison, 9-cis retinoic acid at 30 mg/kg inhibited growth of established tumors by 73 ± 5%. Interestingly, retinoids did not appear to alter tumor morphologies in UMSCC-22B tumors. Notably, ALRT1550 produced a therapeutic index of ≅ 17 in this model, indicating a separation between doses that inhibited tumor growth and that induced symptoms of hypervitaminosis A. In summary, ALRT1550 potently inhibits cellular proliferation in vitro and in vivo in this squamous cell carcinoma tumor model. These data support additional study of ALRT1550 for its potential for improving anticancer therapy in human clinical trials.

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This work was supported by Allergan-Ligand Retinoid Therapeutics, Inc. Portions of this work were presented at the 87th meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (Washington, D. C., April 1996).

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