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There is a pressing need to reduce the time and cost of developing new cytotoxic agents and to accurately identify clinically active agents at an early stage. In this study, the differential staining cytotoxicity (DiSC) assay was used to assess the efficacy of the novel antitumour cAMP analogue, 8-chloro-cAMP (8-Cl-cAMP) (and its metabolite 8-Cl-adenosine) against 107 fresh specimens of human neoplastic and normal cells. Diagnoses included chronic and acute leukaemias, myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and miscellaneous solid tumours. The aim was to identify targets for subsequent phase I, II and III trials. 8-Cl-cAMP was tested at 4-985 microM, along with standard chemotherapeutic drugs. 8-Cl-cAMP and its metabolite caused no morphologically observable cell differentiation but induced dose-dependent cytotoxicity. Compared with untreated patients, previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) patients showed no increase in ex vivo resistance to 8-Cl-cAMP (P = 0.878); minimal cross-resistance with other cytotoxic drugs was detected. Compared with normal cells (mean LC90 = 1803 microM), 8-Cl-cAMP showed significant ex vivo activity against CLL (117.0 microM; P < 0.0001) and NHL (140.0 microM; P < 0.0001), of which eight were mantle cell NHL (84.7 microM), and greatest activity against cells from patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML; mean LC90 = 24.3 microM; in vitro therapeutic index 74-fold, P < 0.0001). Solid tumour specimens were comparatively resistant to 8-Cl-cAMP. The results highlight the clinical potential of 8-Cl-cAMP, point to several new phase I, II and III trial possibilities and provide a rationale for the inclusion of ex vivo cytotoxic drug evaluation in the drug development process.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





511 - 518


2-Chloroadenosine, 8-Bromo Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate, Antineoplastic Agents, Drug Evaluation, Drug Resistance, Humans, Neoplasms