Phase I clinical and pharmacological studies of benzylacyclouridine, a uridine phosphorylase inhibitor

Giuseppe Pizzorno, Lorrin Yee, Barbara A. Burtness, John C. Marsh, James W. Darnowski, Ming Yu W. Chu, Shih Hsi Chu, Edward Chu, Janine J. Leffert, Robert E. Handschumacher, Paul Calabresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Benzylacyclouridine (BAU, IND 039655) is a potent and specific inhibitor of uridine phosphorylase (UrdPase; EC This enzyme plays a major role in regulating uridine homeostasis and also catalyzes the conversion of fluoropyrimidine nucleosides to their respective bases. Inhibition of UrdPase enzyme activity 18-24 h after 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) administration increased plasma levels of uridine and enhanced the therapeutic index of 5-FU by rescuing normal tissues. Moreover, in vitro preclinical studies have also shown that inhibiting UrdPase enzyme activity by BAU prior to administration of 5-FU increased cytotoxicity in a number of human cancer cell lines. A series of preclinical studies was performed in dogs and pigs to evaluate the pharmacological and pharmacodynamic properties of BAU. These data showed a sustained elevation in plasma uridine concentration in both animal models. The rapid degradation of a tracer dose of uridine into uracil was virtually arrested by BAU administered both p.o. or i.v. The t(1/2) of BAU was 1.8-3.6 h in dogs, with bioavailability levels of 85% (30 mg/kg) and 42.5% (120 mg/kg). In pigs, the half-life varied from 1.6 to 2.3 h, with a bioavailability of 40% at 120 mg/kg. The drug was distributed into most tissues with a tissue: plasma ratio of approximately 0.7. On the basis of these preclinical studies, we performed a Phase I clinical trial of BAU in patients with advanced cancer. Patients received 200, 400, 800, and 1600 mg/m2 BAU as a single oral dose. Toxicities included grade 2 anemia, grade 1 fever, grade 1 fatigue, grade I constipation, and grade 1 elevation in alkaline phosphatase; none of these toxicities were observed to be dose dependent. The maximum tolerated dose and dose-limiting toxicity were not reached at the doses given. BAU plasma concentrations and area under the curve correlated linearly with the oral dose level. The pharmacokinetics of BAU were consistent with a first-order clearance, with average peak concentrations ranging from 19 μM (200 mg/m2) to 99 μM (1600 mg/m2) and t(β1/2) ranging from 3.0 to 3.9 h at the four dose levels. Compared with baseline plasma uridine, treatment of patients with 200, 400, 800, and 1600 mg/m2 BAU increased peak uridine concentrations by 120, 150, 250, and 175%, respectively. On the basis of this clinical study, the suggested Phase II starting dose of BAU in combination with 5-FU is 800 mg/m2. Studies combining BAU with 5-FU and incorporating appropriate molecular and biochemical end points to assess the effects of this drug combination on tumor and/or surrogate tumor tissue are under way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1175
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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