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Keywords:

  • antisense oligodeoxynucleotide;
  • apoptosis;
  • clusterin;
  • prostate cancer

Abstract

Background The objective of this study was to review our experience in the development of antisense (AS) oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) therapy for prostate cancer targeting antiapoptotic gene, clusterin.

Methods We initially summarized our data demonstrating that clusterin could be an optimal therapeutic target for prostate cancer, then presented the process of developing AS ODN therapy using several preclinical animal models. Finally, the preliminary data of the recently completed phase I clinical trial using AS clusterin ODN as well as the future prospects of this therapy are discussed.

Results Expression of clusterin was highly up-regulated after androgen withdrawal and during progression to androgen-independence, but low or absent in untreated tissues in both prostate cancer animal model systems and human clinical specimens. Introduction of the clusterin gene into human prostate cancer cells confers resistance to several therapeutic stimuli, including androgen ablation, chemotherapy and radiation. AS ODN targeting the translation initiation site of the clusterin gene markedly inhibited clusterin expression in prostate cancer cells in a dose-dependent and sequence-specific manner. Systemic treatment with AS clusterin ODN enhanced the effects of several conventional therapies through the effective induction of apoptosis in prostate cancer xenograft models. Based on these findings, a phase I clinical trial was completed using AS clusterin ODN incorporating 2′-O-(2-methoxy)ethyl-gapmer backbone (OGX-011), showing up to 90% suppression of clusterin in prostate cancer.

Conclusions The data described above identified clusterin as an antiapoptotic gene up-regulated in an adaptive cell survival manner following various cell death triggers that helps confer a phenotype resistant to therapeutic stimuli. Inhibition of clusterin expression using AS ODN technology enhances apoptosis induced by several conventional treatments, resulting in the delay of AI progression and improved survival. Clinical trials using AS ODN confirm potent suppression of clusterin expression and phase II studies will begin in early 2005.