Recent advances in repurposing disulfiram and disulfiram derivatives as copper-dependent anticancer agents
Dou, Q. Ping
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AbstractCopper (Cu) plays a pivotal role in cancer progression by acting as a co-factor that regulates the activity of many enzymes and structural proteins in cancer cells. Therefore, Cu-based complexes have been investigated as novel anticancer metallodrugs and are considered as a complementary strategy for currently used platinum agents with undesirable general toxicity. Due to the high failure rate and increased cost of new drugs, there is a global drive towards the repositioning of known drugs for cancer treatment in recent years. Disulfiram (DSF) is a first-line antialcoholism drug used in clinics for more than 65 yr. In combination with Cu, it has shown great potential as an anticancer drug by targeting a wide range of cancers. The reaction between DSF and Cu ions forms a copper diethyldithiocarbamate complex (Cu(DDC)2 also known as CuET) which is the active, potent anticancer ingredient through inhibition of NF-κB and ubiquitin-proteasome system as well as alteration of the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). Importantly, DSF/Cu inhibits several molecular targets related to drug resistance, stemness, angiogenesis and metastasis and is thus considered as a novel strategy for overcoming tumour recurrence and relapse in patients. Despite its excellent anticancer efficacy, DSF has proven unsuccessful in several cancer clinical trials. This is likely due to the poor stability, rapid metabolism and/or short plasma half-life of the currently used oral version of DSF and the inability to form Cu(DDC)2 at relevant concentrations in tumour tissues. Here, we summarize the scientific rationale, molecular targets, and mechanisms of action of DSF/Cu in cancer cells and the outcomes of oral DSF ± Cu in cancer clinical trials. We will focus on the novel insights on harnessing the immune system and hypoxic microenvironment using DSF/Cu complex and discuss the emerging delivery strategies that can overcome the shortcomings of DSF-based anticancer therapies and provide opportunities for translation of DSF/Cu or its Cu(DDC)2 complex into cancer therapeutics.
CitationKannappan V, Ali M, Small B, Rajendran G, Elzhenni S, Taj H, Wang W and Dou QP (2021) Recent Advances in Repurposing Disulfiram and Disulfiram Derivatives as Copper Dependent Anticancer Agents. Front. Mol. Biosci. 8:741316. doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2021.741316
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Biosciences
PubMed ID34604310 (pubmed)
Description© 2021 The Authors. Published by Frontiers Media. This is an open access article available under a Creative Commons licence. The published version can be accessed at the following link on the publisher’s website: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmolb.2021.741316
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Licence for published version: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
- Recent Advances in Repurposing Disulfiram and Disulfiram Derivatives as Copper-Dependent Anticancer Agents.
- Authors: Kannappan V, Ali M, Small B, Rajendran G, Elzhenni S, Taj H, Wang W, Dou QP
- Issue date: 2021
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