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Ranpirnase and its potential for the treatment of unresectable malignant mesothelioma

Authors Porta C, Paglino C, Mutti L

Published 5 December 2008 Volume 2008:2(4) Pages 601—609


Camillo Porta1, Chiara Paglino1, Luciano Mutti2

1Medical Oncology and Laboratory of Pre-Clinical Oncology and Developmental Therapeutics, I.R.C.C.S. San Matteo University Hospital Foundation, Pavia, Italy; 2Local Health Authority 6, Piedmont, Italy

Abstract: Ribonucleases are a superfamily of enzymes which operate at the crossroads of transcription and translation, catalyzing the degradation of RNA; they can be cytotoxic because the cleavage of RNA renders indecipherable its information. Ranpirnase is a novel ribonuclease which preferentially degrades tRNA, thus leading to inhibition of protein synthesis and, ultimately, to cytostasis and cytotoxicity. Ranpirnase has demonstrated antitumor activity both in vitro and in vivo in several tumor models. The maximum tolerated dose emerging from phase I studies was 960 g/m2, with renal toxicity as the main dose-limiting toxicity. A large phase II trial showed that ranpirnase has disease-modifying activity against malignant mesothelioma. Ranpirnase proved to be superior to doxorubicin in a phase III trial, while preliminary results of another large, phase III trial, suggest that the combination of ranpirnase and doxorubicin could be more effective than doxorubicin alone. In all the above studies, ranpirnase seems to act mainly as a cytostatic rather than a cytotoxic drug, stabilizing progressive disease and potentially prolonging patients’ survival. Ranpirnase may thus find its niche in combination with doxorubicin for mesothelioma as a second-line therapy, where no standard of care presently exists.

Keywords: ranpirnase, mesothelioma, ribonucleases, doxorubicin, antitumor activity

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