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Aug 2010 Nature reviews. Clinical oncology

Metronomic chemotherapy: new rationale for new directions.


Pasquier E, Kavallaris M, André N


Tumor angiogenesis is recognized as a major therapeutic target in the fight against cancer. The key involvement of angiogenesis in tumor growth and metastasis has started to redefine chemotherapy and new protocols have emerged. Metronomic chemotherapy, which is intended to prevent tumor angiogenesis, is based on more frequent and low-dose drug administrations compared with conventional chemotherapy. The potential of metronomic chemotherapy was revealed in animal models a decade ago and the efficacy of this approach has been confirmed in the clinic. In the past 5 years, multiple clinical trials have investigated the safety and efficacy of metronomic chemotherapy in a variety of human cancers. While the results have been variable, clinical studies have shown that these new treatment protocols represent an interesting alternative for either primary systemic therapy or maintenance therapy. We review the latest clinical trials of metronomic chemotherapy in adult and pediatric cancer patients. Accumulating evidence suggests that the efficacy of such treatment may not only rely on anti-angiogenic activity. Potential new mechanisms of action, such as restoration of anticancer immune response and induction of tumor dormancy are discussed. Finally, we highlight the research efforts that need to be made to facilitate the optimal development of metronomic chemotherapy.

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