Author(s): Di Stefano G, Lanza M, Kratz F, Merina L, Fiume L
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Abstract The expression of the asialoglycoprotein receptor on the cells of the large majority of the well differentiated hepatocellular carcinomas can be exploited to improve the chemotherapy of these tumours by coupling anticancer agents to macromolecules taken up by the receptor. In line with this approach, in previous experiments we coupled doxorubicin (DOXO) to lactosaminated human albumin (L-HSA) using the (6-maleimidocaproyl)hydrazone derivative of the drug as an acid sensitive linker. Encouraging results were obtained in laboratory animals using L-HSA-DOXO. This conjugate, however, has the disadvantage of a difficult synthesis, which requires protein thiolation with iminothiolane and can hinder its preparation on a large scale. Here we describe a very simple method of coupling. The HS-groups required for the reaction with the maleimide moiety of DOXO-EMCH are made available in L-HSA by a cleavage of the protein disulphides achieved with tris(2-carboxyethyl) phosphine (TCEP). Contrary to thiolic reducing agents, the use of TCEP eliminates the need of an inert atmosphere and allows a one-step coupling reaction, without purification of the reduced protein before the addition of DOXO-EMCH. As the previous L-HSA-DOXO conjugate, the new conjugate accomplishes a very efficient liver targeting of the drug. This novel method of synthesis should facilitate the preparation of L-HSA-DOXO in the amounts required for clinical studies.
This article was published in Eur J Pharm Sci
and referenced in Medicinal Chemistry