Floxuridine Oligomers Activated under Hypoxic Environment

J Am Chem Soc. 2021 Mar 10;143(9):3340-3347. doi: 10.1021/jacs.0c10732. Epub 2021 Mar 1.


Floxuridine oligomers are anticancer oligonucleotide drugs composed of a number of floxuridine residues. They show enhanced cytotoxicity per floxuridine monomer because the nuclease degradation of floxuridine oligomers directly releases highly active floxuridine monophosphate in cells. However, their clinical use is limited by the low selectivity against cancer cells. To address this limitation, we herein report floxuridine oligomer prodrugs that are active under hypoxia conditions, which is one of the distinguishing features of the microenvironment of all solid tumors. We designed and synthesized two types of floxuridine oligomer prodrugs that possess hypoxia-responsive moieties on nucleobases. The floxuridine oligomer prodrugs showed lower cytotoxicity under normoxia conditions (O2 = 20%), while the parent floxuridine oligomer showed similar anticancer effects under hypoxia conditions (O2 = 1%). The floxuridine oligomer prodrug enabled tumor growth suppression in live mice. This would be the first example demonstrating the conditional control of the medicinal efficacy of oligomerized nucleoside anticancer drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Floxuridine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Floxuridine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Oligoribonucleotides / therapeutic use*
  • Prodrugs / therapeutic use*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Oligoribonucleotides
  • Prodrugs
  • Floxuridine