Anticancer efficacy of the hypoxia-activated prodrug evofosfamide is enhanced in combination with proapoptotic receptor agonists against osteosarcoma

Vasilios Liapis, Aneta Zysk, Mark DeNichilo, Irene Zinonos, Shelley Hay, Vasilios Panagopoulos, Alexandra Shoubridge, Christopher Difelice, Vladimir Ponomarev, Wendy Ingman, Gerald J. Atkins, David M. Findlay, Andrew C.W. Zannettino, Andreas Evdokiou

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Tumor hypoxia is a major cause of treatment failure for a variety of malignancies. However, hypoxia also leads to treatment opportunities as demonstrated by the development of compounds that target regions of hypoxia within tumors. Evofosfamide is a hypoxia-activated prodrug that is created by linking the hypoxia-seeking 2-nitroimidazole moiety to the cytotoxic bromo-isophosphoramide mustard (Br-IPM). When evofosfamide is delivered to hypoxic regions of tumors, the DNA cross-linking toxin, Br-IPM, is released leading to cell death. This study assessed the anticancer efficacy of evofosfamide in combination with the Proapoptotic Receptor Agonists (PARAs) dulanermin and drozitumab against human osteosarcoma in vitro and in an intratibial murine model of osteosarcoma. Under hypoxic conditions in vitro, evofosfamide cooperated with dulanermin and drozitumab, resulting in the potentiation of cytotoxicity to osteosarcoma cells. In contrast, under the same conditions, primary human osteoblasts were resistant to treatment. Animals transplanted with osteosarcoma cells directly into their tibiae developed mixed osteosclerotic/osteolytic bone lesions and consequently developed lung metastases 3 weeks post cancer cell transplantation. Tumor burden in the bone was reduced by evofosfamide treatment alone and in combination with drozitumab and prevented osteosarcoma-induced bone destruction while also reducing the growth of pulmonary metastases. These results suggest that evofosfamide may be an attractive therapeutic agent, with strong anticancer activity alone or in combination with either drozitumab or dulanermin against osteosarcoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2164-2176
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Sep 2017


  • Drozitumab
  • dulanermin
  • evofosfamide
  • hypoxia
  • osteosarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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