June 3, 2016 • 2 Min

Low-Dose Continuous Chemotherapy as Part of a New Combination of Drugs

microscope image of pancreatic cancer--the blue irregular circles on the left--and normal pancreas cells--the smaller circles on the right

Ed Uthman; Flickr

A clinical trial for metastatic pancreatic cancer patients uses a new combination of standard and experimental drugs given in a lower dose over a longer time span, a practice known as metronomic therapy.

By combining chemotherapy drugs already in use with a drug that stops tumors from growing their own blood vessels, and using metronomic dosing of chemotherapy, researchers hope to find an effective treatment that allows patients to live comfortably.

Metronomic Therapy with Standard Drugs

The drugs used in this trial are 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), nab-paclitaxel, bevacizumab, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin, a combination called FABLOx. The 5-FU interferes with parts of the DNA synthesis process in the cell replication cycle. Because chemotherapy targets all cells, not just cancer cells, it causes uncomfortable side effects. In this clinical trial 5-FU is given via metronomic therapy, a low-dose continuous infusion over a longer period of time. The concept behind this type of drug delivery is that lower doses spread out over a longer time will provide the same effect on the cancer while minimizing the side effects.

The other drugs in the study work on different aspects of the cancer cell. Nab-paclitaxel inhibits cell division and promotes cell death. Leucovorin, derived from folic acid, enhances the effects of 5-FU. Oxaliplatin is a platinum compound that disrupts DNA and kills cancer cells.

Adding Immunotherapy

Bevacizumab has been added into this group as an experimental drug. It is a monoclonal antibody, a drug specifically designed for a particular purpose.  Bevacizumab decreases the blood supply to tumors by blocking the growth and maintenance of blood vessels.

We encourage you to consult your physician for clinical trials that may be right for you.  The website provides more details about this trial as well as many others. You can also visit the EmergingMed Trial Finder for a listing of all active pancreatic cancer clinical trials.

This study is now complete. To learn more about doctors and patients using this type of chemotherapy regimen, read “Synergy with Metronomic Chemotherapy.”

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