Review of UCN-01 development: a lesson in the importance of clinical pharmacology

J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Apr;45(4):394-403. doi: 10.1177/0091270005274549.


UCN-01 is a protein kinase inhibitor under development as a novel anticancer drug. The initial pharmacologic features in patients were not predicted from preclinical experiments. The distribution volume and the systemic clearance were much lower than those in experimental animals (mice, rats, and dogs), and the elimination half-life was unusually long (>200 hours). The unbound fraction in human plasma was also much smaller than that in dogs, rats and mice, as was the binding of UCN-01 to human alpha-1 acid glycoprotein much stronger than that to human serum albumin or human gamma-globulin. The association constants for alpha-1 acid glycoprotein and human plasma were approximately 8 x 10(8)(mol/L)(-1), indicating extremely high affinity. In this review article, the authors discuss the pharmacologic features of UCN-01 across species and provide a perspective on how this information could be applied prospectively to the future development of this agent.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Design
  • Drugs, Investigational / chemical synthesis
  • Drugs, Investigational / pharmacokinetics
  • Drugs, Investigational / pharmacology*
  • Drugs, Investigational / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Staurosporine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Staurosporine / chemical synthesis
  • Staurosporine / pharmacokinetics
  • Staurosporine / pharmacology*
  • Staurosporine / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drugs, Investigational
  • 7-hydroxystaurosporine
  • Staurosporine