Current role of nitroimidazole sensitizers and sulfhydryl protectors in clinical oncology

C. N. Coleman, J. M. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The electron-attractive 2-nitroimidazole sensitizers have the potential to sensitize hypoxic cells to destruction by ionizing radiation and to enhance the cellular destructive effects of alkylating agents and are being evaluated in clinical trials. The drug development program has produced newer drugs that should be less neurotoxic and thus could be used more frequently and at higher dose. In the laboratory, these drugs also have the ability to reduce the shoulder on the cell survival curve and to destroy cells that are incubated for long periods under hypoxic conditions. It is not known whether the latter effects occur in vivo. The radioprotector WR-2721 has the potential to protect normal tissues against the toxic effects of radiotherapy and of some chemotherapeutic agents. Drug scheduling is now being evaluated, and phase 2 studies of efficacy will then be initiated. The potential for these drugs is extremely exciting. The ability to sensitize tumors while protecting normal tissues may greatly enhance tumor control, since the dose-response curve for both tumors and normal tissues is probably steep in clinical dose ranges. Research efforts are guided by the Radiosensitizer/Protector Working Group of the Division of Cancer Treatment, National Cancer Institute.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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