Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Mark Leggas

Second Advisor

Dr. Val Adams


AR-67 is a lipophilic third generation camptothecin analogue, currently under early stage clinical trials. It acts by targeting Topoisomerase 1 (Top1), a nuclear enzyme essential for DNA replication and transcription and is present in two forms, the pharmacologically active lipophilic lactone and the charged carboxylate. In oncology patients participating in a phase I clinical trial, AR-67 lactone was the predominant species in plasma. Similarly to other camptothecins, the identified dose-limiting toxicities for AR-67 were neutropenia, thrombocytopenia and fatigue. In addition, in vitro metabolism studies indicated AR-67 lactone as a substrate for CYP3A4/5 as well as the UGT1A7 and UGT1A8 enzymes localizing in the liver and the gut.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the over-expression of transporters in certain tumor types. Here, the effect of interactions between AR-67 and efflux or uptake transporters on the antitumor efficacy of AR-67 in vitro was studied. We showed that BCRP and MDR1 overexpression confers resistance to AR-67.

Moreover, we demonstrated the therapeutic superiority of protracted dosing over more intense dosing regimens of AR-67 using xenografts models. Our studies indicated the schedule-dependent expression of Top1 and the preferential partitioning of AR-67 in the tumor tissue. We reason that these are factors that need to be taken into consideration when designing dosing schedules aiming to maximize efficacy.

As most cytotoxic drugs, AR-67 has a narrow therapeutic window. Thus, it is essential to identify the variables influencing exposure to this camptothecin analogue. A thorough compartmental pharmacokinetic analysis was performed on the patient data obtained in a phase 1 clinical trial on AR-67. Moreover, sources of intersubject variability associated with obtaining pharmacokinetic parameter estimates were identified and a population covariate pharmacokinetic model was developed.

In conclusion, the drug development of AR-67 is a work in process. Findings presented above provide an insight on the factors contributing to its efficacy and toxicity when given to cancer patients.