Memantine-derived drugs as potential antitumor agents for the treatment of glioblastoma

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Glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive malignant primary brain cancer in adults. To date, surgery, radiotherapy and current pharmacological treatments are not sufficient to manage this pathology that has a high mortality rate (median survival 12–15 months).

Recently, anticancer multi-targeted compounds have attracted much attention with the aim to obtain new drugs able to hit different biological targets that are involved in the onset and progression of the disease.

Here, we report the synthesis of novel memantine-derived drugs (MP1–10) and their potential antitumor activities in human U87MG glioblastoma cell line. MP1–10 were synthetized joining memantine, which is a NMDA antagonist, to different histone deacetylase inhibitors to obtain one molecule with improved therapeutic efficacy.

Biological results indicated that MP1 and MP2 possessed more potent anti-proliferative effects on U87MG cells than MP3–10 in a dose-dependent manner. MP1 and MP2 induced significant cell death by apoptosis characterized by apoptotic morphological changes in Hoechst staining. Both drugs also exhibited non-genotoxic and only mild cytotoxic effects in human whole blood cells. However, only MP1, showing good chemico-physical properties (solubility, LogP) and enzymatic stabilities in gastric and intestinal fluids, can be considered a suitable candidate for in vivo pharmacokinetic studies.

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