Development and characterization of a novel flavopiridol formulation for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia

J Control Release. 2021 May 10;333:246-257. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2021.03.042. Epub 2021 Mar 30.


For more than 30 years, treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has remained largely unchanged and reliant on chemotherapeutic drug combinations, specifically cytarabine and daunorubicin (the 7 + 3 regimen). One broad spectrum drug, flavopiridol (also known as Alvocidib) has shown significant activity against AML through the inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinases. Flavopiridol is a semisynthetic flavonoid and our research team recently described methods to formulate another flavonoid, quercetin, through the ability of flavonoids to bind divalent metals. This method relies on use of copper-containing liposomes to enhance the apparent solubility of flavopiridol and to create formulations suitable for intravenous (i.v.) use. Similar to quercetin, flavopiridol is defined as an aqueous-insoluble compound (< 1 mg/mL in water) and this research sought to evaluate whether the copper-binding capabilities of flavopiridol could be used to prepare an injectable formulation that would exhibit enhanced exposure and improved efficacy. Flavopiridol powder was added directly to preformed copper-containing liposomes (DSPC:Chol or DSPC:DSPE-PEG2000) and the resulting formulations were characterized. Pharmacokinetic and efficacy studies were then conducted. The liposomal flavopiridol formulations were well-tolerated in mice following i.v. administration at a dose of 5 mg/kg with no apparent acute or chronic toxicities. In vivo pharmacokinetics of the optimized DSPC/DSPE-PEG2000 liposomal flavopiridol formulation demonstrated a 30-fold increase in AUC (0.804 μg-hr/mL versus 26.92 μg-hr/mL) compared to the free flavopiridol formulation. The resultant liposomal formulation also demonstrated significant therapeutic activity in MV4-11 and MOLM-13 subcutaneous AML models. Additional studies will be required to define whether formulation changes can be made to enhance flavopiridol retention in the selected composition. The results suggest that further increases in flavopiridol retention will result in improved therapeutic activity.

Keywords: Acute myeloid leukemia; Alvocidib; Flavonoid; Flavopiridol; Liposomes; Nanoparticle.