Combination therapy of prostate cancer with HPMA copolymer conjugates containing PI3K/mTOR inhibitor and docetaxel

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Combination therapies have been investigated to address the current challenges of anti-cancer therapeutics. In particular, a novel paradigm of combination therapy targeting both cancer stem/progenitor cells and bulk tumor cells is promising to improve the long-term therapeutic benefit against prostate cancer. Among the therapeutic agents with anti-CSC activities, the PI3K/mTOR inhibitors exhibit preferential inhibitory effect on prostate cancer stem/progenitor cells and potent cytotoxicity against bulk tumor cells. The combination of PI3K/mTOR inhibitor and traditional chemotherapy docetaxel may show superior therapeutic effect over single drug treatment. Aiming to further improve the combinational anti-tumor and anti-CSC effect, we developed the combination therapy containing two HPMA copolymer–drug conjugates, incorporated with PI3K/mTOR inhibitor GDC-0980 (P-(GDC-0980)) and docetaxel (P-DTX), respectively. The anti-tumor and anti-CSC effects of the single and combination therapy were investigated in vitro and on PC-3 prostate cancer xenografts in nude mice. Our evaluations showed that P-(GDC-0980) suppressed CD133+ prostate stem/progenitor cell growth even at the low dose which does not cause significant growth inhibition in bulk tumor cells. The combination therapy exhibited effective anti-CSC effect as well as enhanced anti-bulk tumor effect in vitro. Among all the single and combination dosing regimens of free drugs and conjugates, the macromolecular combination therapy showed significantly prolonged mice survival in vivo.

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