Evaluation of the pharmacological activities of RAD1901, a selective estrogen receptor degrader

Suzanne E. Wardell, Erik R. Nelson, Christina A. Chao, Holly M. Alley, Donald P. McDonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endocrine therapy, using tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor, remains a first-line treatment for estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1) positive breast cancer. However, tumor resistance limits the duration of response. The clinical efficacy of fulvestrant, a selective ER degrader (SERD) that triggers receptor degradation, has confirmed that ESR1 often remains engaged in endocrine therapy resistant cancers. Recently developed, selective ER modulators (SERMs)/SERD hybrids (SSHs) that facilitate ESR1 degradation in breast cancer cells and reproductive tissues have been advanced as an alternative treatment for advanced breast cancer, particularly in the metastatic setting. RAD1901 is one SSH currently being evaluated clinically that is unique among ESR1 modulators in that it readily enters the brain, a common site of breast cancer metastasis. In this study, RAD1901 inhibited estrogen activation of ESR1 in vitro and in vivo, inhibited estrogen-dependent breast cancer cell proliferation and xenograft tumor growth, and mediated dose-dependent downregulation of ESR1 protein. However, doses of RAD1901 insufficient to induce ESR1 degradation were shown to result in the activation of ESR1 target genes and in the stimulation of xenograft tumor growth. RAD1901 is an SSH that exhibits complex pharmacology in breast cancer models, having dose-dependent agonist/ antagonist activity displayed in a tissue-selective manner. It remains unclear how this unique pharmacology will impact the utility of RAD1901 for breast cancer treatment. However, being the only SERD currently known to access the brain, RAD1901 merits evaluation as a targeted therapy for the treatment of breast cancer brain metastases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-724
Number of pages12
JournalEndocrine-Related Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Endocrine-resistant breast cancer
  • RAD1901
  • SERM
  • Selective estrogen receptor degrader

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Oncology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cancer Research


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