An Overview of Next-Generation Androgen Receptor-Targeted Therapeutics in Development for the Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Feb 20;22(4):2124. doi: 10.3390/ijms22042124.


Traditional endocrine therapy for prostate cancer (PCa) has been directed at suppression of the androgen receptor (AR) signaling axis since Huggins et al. discovered that diethylstilbestrol (DES; an estrogen) produced chemical castration and PCa tumor regression. Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) still remains the first-line PCa therapy. Insufficiency of ADT over time leads to castration-resistant PCa (CRPC) in which the AR axis is still active, despite castrate levels of circulating androgens. Despite the approval and use of multiple generations of competitive AR antagonists (antiandrogens), antiandrogen resistance emerges rapidly in CRPC due to several mechanisms, mostly converging in the AR axis. Recent evidence from multiple groups have defined noncompetitive or noncanonical direct binding sites on AR that can be targeted to inhibit the AR axis. This review discusses new developments in the PCa treatment paradigm that includes the next-generation molecules to noncanonical sites, proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC), or noncanonical N-terminal domain (NTD)-binding of selective AR degraders (SARDs). A few lead compounds targeting each of these novel noncanonical sites or with SARD activity are discussed. Many of these ligands are still in preclinical development, and a few early clinical leads have emerged, but successful late-stage clinical data are still lacking. The breadth and diversity of targets provide hope that optimized noncanonical inhibitors and/or SARDs will be able to overcome antiandrogen-resistant CRPC.

Keywords: androgen receptor (AR); castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC); non-canonical; prostate cancer; selective AR degraders (SARD).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists / chemistry
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Proteolysis / drug effects
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*


  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Receptors, Androgen