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irinotecan Irinotecan is a derivative of camptothecin. Camptothecins act as specific inhibitors of the enzyme DNA topoisomerase I. Irinotecan and its active metabolite SN-38 bind reversibly to the topoisomerase I-DNA complex and induce single-strand DNA lesions which block the DNA replication fork and are responsible for the cytotoxicity. Irinotecan is metabolized by carboxylesterase to SN-38. SN-38 is approximately 1000 times as potent as irinotecan as an inhibitor of topoisomerase I purified from human and rodent tumour cell lines.

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