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Ratiometric Dosing Of Anticancer Drug Combinations: Controlling Drug Ratios After Systemic Administration Regulates Therapeutic Activity In Tumor-bearing Mice

L. Mayer, T. Harasym, P. Tardi, Natashia L Harasym, C. Shew, S. Johnstone, E. Ramsay, M. Bally, A. Janoff
Published 2006 · Biology, Medicine

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Anticancer drug combinations can act synergistically or antagonistically against tumor cells in vitro depending on the ratios of the individual agents comprising the combination. The importance of drug ratios in vivo, however, has heretofore not been investigated, and combination chemotherapy treatment regimens continue to be developed based on the maximum tolerated dose of the individual agents. We systematically examined three different drug combinations representing a range of anticancer drug classes with distinct molecular mechanisms (irinotecan/floxuridine, cytarabine/daunorubicin, and cisplatin/daunorubicin) for drug ratio–dependent synergy. In each case, synergistic interactions were observed in vitro at certain drug/drug molar ratio ranges (1:1, 5:1, and 10:1, respectively), whereas other ratios were additive or antagonistic. We were able to maintain fixed drug ratios in plasma of mice for 24 hours after i.v. injection for all three combinations by controlling and overcoming the inherent dissimilar pharmacokinetics of individual drugs through encapsulation in liposomal carrier systems. The liposomes not only maintained drug ratios in the plasma after injection, but also delivered the formulated drug ratio directly to tumor tissue. In vivo maintenance of drug ratios shown to be synergistic in vitro provided increased efficacy in preclinical tumor models, whereas attenuated antitumor activity was observed when antagonistic drug ratios were maintained. Fixing synergistic drug ratios in pharmaceutical carriers provides an avenue by which anticancer drug combinations can be optimized prospectively for maximum therapeutic activity during preclinical development and differs from current practice in which dosing regimens are developed empirically in late-stage clinical trials based on tolerability. [Mol Cancer Ther 2006;5(7):1854–63]
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