The majority of tumors contain regions of hypoxia, which cause marked phenotypic changes to resident cells. This altered gene expression often leads to increased resistance to anticancer treatments. Therefore, elimination of these resistant hypoxic cells is crucial to prevent disease recurrence. Herein, we describe the selective delivery of imaging and chemotherapeutic agents to cells expressing carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX), a highly upregulated hypoxia receptor. These agents were conjugated to a potent divalent CA IX ligand through a hydrophilic PEG linker. These conjugates are shown to bind CA IX–expressing cells in a receptor-dependent manner in vitro with mid-nanomolar affinities and in vivo with good tumor selectivity. In a mouse xenograft tumor model using HT-29 cells, a cytotoxic tubulysin B conjugate completely inhibited tumor growth. Overall, the targeting of a hypoxia marker, such as CA IX, to selectively deliver imaging or chemotherapeutic agents may lead to better treatment options for solid, hypoxic tumors. In addition, the combination of standard chemotherapeutics that are most potent in normoxic dividing cells and drugs specifically designed to eliminate hypoxic nondividing cells may elicit a superior clinical outcome. Mol Cancer Ther; 16(3); 453–60. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Online (http://mct.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received August 10, 2016.
- Revision received December 1, 2016.
- Accepted December 5, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.