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Sequential inhibition of polyamine synthesis

A phase I trial of DFMO (α-difluoromethylornithine) and methyl-GAG [methylglyoxal-bis(guanylhydrazone)]


Both DFMO and methyl-GAG inhibit sequential enzymatic reactions in the pathway of polyamine biosynthesis. Since polyamines may be important factors in proliferation of cancer cells, we initiated a phase-I study of these agents in patients with advanced cancer. DFMO was given by mouth at a constant daily dose of 4 g/m2 starting on day 1 of the treatment protocol. The dose of methyl-GAG ranged from 200 to 700 mg/m2 administered IV every 2 weeks beginning on day 4. Twenty-two patients were entered into the protocol. Toxic reactions to this therapy were dose-related and included nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, and myelosuppression. One patient with colon cancer experienced a>50% decrease in measurable disease but developed severe myelotoxicity. While DFMO was well tolerated, the combination of drugs appeared to cause substantially more hematologic and gastrointestinal toxicity than encountered during our recent experience with methyl-GAG used alone. We suggest that future studies of this drug combination carefully evaluate levels of polyamines and inhibition of enzymatic activity to minimize toxicity.

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Correspondence to Raymond P. Warrell Jr..

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Warrell, R.P., Coonley, C.J. & Burchenal, J.H. Sequential inhibition of polyamine synthesis. Cancer Chemother. Pharmacol. 11, 134–136 (1983).

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  • Cancer Cell
  • Colon Cancer
  • Diarrhea
  • Enzymatic Reaction
  • Treatment Protocol