Next-Generation Hypoxic Cell Radiosensitizers: Nitroimidazole Alkylsulfonamides

Innovations in the field of radiotherapy such as stereotactic body radiotherapy, along with the advent of radio-immuno-oncology, herald new opportunities for classical oxygen-mimetic radiosensitizers. The role of hypoxic tumor cells in resistance to radiotherapy and in suppression of immune response continues to endorse tumor hypoxia as a bona fide, yet largely untapped, drug target. Only nimorazole is used clinically as a radiosensitizer, and there is a dearth of new radiosensitizers in development. Here we present a survey of novel nitroimidazole alkylsulfonamides and document their cytotoxicity and ability to radiosensitize anoxic tumor cells in vitro. We use a phosphate prodrug approach to increase aqueous solubility and to improve tumor drug delivery. A 2-nitroimidazole and a 5-nitroimidazole analogue demonstrated marked tumor radiosensitization in either ex vivo assays of surviving clonogens or tumor regrowth delay.