Developing cancer therapeutics that radiosensitize in a tumor-selective manner remains an ideal. We developed a novel means of radiosensitization, exploiting NAD(P)H:Quinone Oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) overexpression, and lowered catalase expression in solid human tumors using NQO1-bioactivatable drugs. Non-small cell lung (NSCLC), pancreatic (PDAC), prostate, and breast cancers overexpress NQO1. Ionizing radiation (IR) creates a spectrum of DNA lesions, including lethal DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), and mutagenic but rarely lethal altered DNA bases and DNA single-strand breaks (SSBs). NQO1-bioactivatable drugs (e.g., β-lapachone and deoxynyboquiones) also promote abasic DNA lesions and SSBs. These hyperactivate poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) and dramatically increase calcium release from the endoplasm reticulum (ER). Exposure of human cancer cells overexpressing NQO1 to NQO1-bioactivatable drugs immediately following IR, therefore, hyperactivates PARP1 synergistically, which in turn depletes NAD+ and ATP, inhibiting DSB repair. Ultimately, this leads to cell death. Combining IR with NQO1-bioactivatable drugs allows for a reduction in drug dose. Similarly, a lower IR dose can be used in combination with the drug, reducing the effects of IR on normal tissue. The combination treatment is effective in preclinical animal models with NSCLC, prostate, and head and neck xenografts, indicating that clinical trials are warranted.
Part of the book: Translational Research in Cancer