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Bexarotene is a commercially produced drug commonly known as Targetin presecribed to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). Bex mimics the actions of natural 9-cis retinoic acid in the body, which are derived from Vitamin A in the diet and boost the immune system. Bex has been shown to be effective in the treatment of multiple types of cancer, including lung cancer. However, the disadvantages of using Bex include increased instances of hypothyroidism and excessive concentrations of blood triglycerides. If an analog of Bex can be developed which retains high affinity RXR binding similar to the 9-cis retinoic acid while exhibiting less interference for heterodimerization pathways, it would be of great clinical significance in improving the quality of life for patients with CTCL. This thesis will detail the biological profiling of additional novel (Generation Two) analogs, which are currently in submission for publication, as well as that of Generation Three analogs. The results from these studies reveal that specific alterations in the core structure of the Bex "parent" compound structure can have dramatic effects in modifying the biological activity of RXR agonists.
Bexarotene (Targretin®) is an FDA approved drug used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), as well as off-label treatments for various cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. Previous research has indicated that bexarotene has a specific affinity for retinoid X receptors (RXR), which allows bexarotene to act as a ligand-activated-transcription factor and in return control cell differentiation and proliferation. Bexarotene targets RXR homodimerization to drive transcription of tumor suppressing genes; however, adverse reactions occur simultaneously when bound to other nuclear receptors. In this study, we used novel bexarotene analogs throughout 5 iterations synthesized in the laboratory of Dr. Wagner to test for their potency and ability to bind RXR. The aim of our study is to quantitatively measure RXR homodimerization driven by bexarotene analogs using a yeast two-hybrid system. Our results suggests there to be several compounds with higher protein activity than bexarotene, particularly in generations 3.0 and 5.0. This higher affinity for RXR homodimers may help scientists identify a compound that will minimize adverse effects and toxicity of bexarotene and serve as a better cancer treatment alternative.