Synthesizing polycationic polymers directly from existing drugs overcomes the drug-loading limitations often associated with pharmacologically inert nanocarriers. We recently described nanocarriers formed from a first-generation polyamine analogue, bis(ethyl)norspermine (BENSpm), that could simultaneously target polyamine metabolism while delivering therapeutic nucleic acids. In the current study, we describe the synthesis and evaluation of self-immolative nanocarriers derived from the second-generation polyamine analogue PG-11047. Polyamines are absolutely essential for proliferation and their metabolism is frequently dysregulated in cancer. Through its effects on polyamine metabolism, PG-11047 effectively inhibits tumor growth in cancer cell lines of multiple origins as well as in human tumor mouse xenografts. Promising clinical trials have been completed verifying the safety and tolerance of this rotationally restricted polyamine analogue. We therefore used PG-11047 as the basis for Nano11047, a biodegradable, prodrug nanocarrier capable of targeting polyamine metabolism. Following exposure of lung cancer cell lines to Nano11047, uptake and intracellular degradation into the parent compound PG-11047 was observed. The release of PG-11047 highly induced the polyamine catabolic enzyme activities of spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) and spermine oxidase (SMOX). By contrast, the activity of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), a rate-limiting enzyme in polyamine biosynthesis and a putative oncogene, was decreased. Consequently, intracellular levels of the natural polyamines were depleted concurrent with tumor cell growth inhibition. This availability of Nano11047 as a novel drug form and potential nucleic acid delivery vector will potentially benefit and encourage future clinical studies.
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