Daunorubicin or daunomycin (daunomycin cerubidine) is chemotherapeutic of the anthracycline family that is given as a treatment for some types of cancer. It is most commonly used to treat specific types of leukaemia (acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia). It was initially isolated from Streptomyces peucetius.
It slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in the body. Treatment is usually performed together with other chemotherapy drugs (such as cytarabine), and its administration depends on the type of tumor and the degree of response.
In addition to its major use in treating AML, daunorubicin is also used to treat neuroblastoma. Daunorubicin has been used with other chemotherapy agents to treat the blastic phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Daunorubicin is also used as the starting material for semi-synthetic manufacturing of doxorubicin, epirubicin and idarubicin.
MECHANISM OF ACTION
Similar to Doxorubicin, Daunorubicin interacts with DNA by intercalation and inhibition of macromolecular biosynthesis. This inhibits the progression of the enzyme topoisomerase II, which relaxes supercoils in DNA for transcription. Daunorubicin stabilizes the topoisomerase II complex after it has broken the DNA chain for replication, preventing the DNA double helix from being resealed and thereby stopping the process of replication. On binding to DNA, daunomycin intercalates, with its daunosamine residue directed toward the minor groove. It has the highest preference for two adjacent G/C base pairs flanked on the 5' side by an A/T base pair. Daunomycin effectively binds to every 3 base pairs and induces a local unwinding angle of 11°, but negligible distortion of helical conformation.
ROUTE OF ADMINISTRATION
Daunorubicin should only be administered in a rapid intravenous infusion. It should not be administered intramuscularly or subcutaneously, since it may cause extensive tissue necrosis. It should also never be administered intrathecally (into the spinal canal), as this will cause extensive damage to the nervous system and may lead to death.
SOURCES: Weiss RB, Tan C, Tasaka H, Yu KP, Murphy ML, Karnofsky DA