Anthracyclines as effective anticancer drugs

Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery
Janos Nadas, Duxin Sun


Anthracyclines have received significant attention due to their effectiveness and extensive use as anticancer agents. At present, the clinical use of these drugs is offset by drug resistance in tumours and cardiotoxicity. Therefore, a relentless search for the 'better anthracycline' has been ongoing since the inception of these drugs > 30 years ago. This review focuses on the most recent pharmacology and medicinal chemistry developments on the design and use of anthracyclines. Based on their crystal structures as well as molecular modelling, a more detailed mechanism of topoisomerase poisoning by these new anthracyclines has emerged. Chemical modifications of anthracyclines have been found to possibly change the target selectivity among various topoisomerases and, thus, vary their anticancer activity. Additionally, recent sugar modifications of anthracyclines have also been found to overcome P-glycoprotein-mediated drug resistance in cancer therapy. The continued improvement of anthracycline clinical applications so far and the clinical trials of the 'third generation' of anthracyclines (such as sabarubicin) are also discussed. To finally find the 'better' anthracycline, further areas of research still need to be explored such ...Continue Reading


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