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Clin Cancer Res. 2002 Jan;8(1):221-32.

Differences in therapeutic indexes of combination metronomic chemotherapy and an anti-VEGFR-2 antibody in multidrug-resistant human breast cancer xenografts.

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  • 1Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Toronto, Ontario, M4N 3 M5 Canada.


One of the greatest barriers to the treatment of cancer with chemotherapeutic drugs is acquisition of drug resistance. This includes multidrug resistance mediated by P-glycoprotein (Pgp) to multiple lipophilic natural compounds such as taxanes, doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and vinblastine. The considerable efforts made thus far to reverse this and other types of drug resistance have had very limited success. We report here that a variety of orthotopic human breast cancer xenografts selected for high levels of Pgp and multidrug resistance respond in a significant and durable manner to different continuous low-dose (e.g., one-tenth the maximum tolerated dose of chemotherapy) chemotherapy regimens, when used in combination with an antivascular endothelial cell growth factor (anti-VEGF) receptor-2 (flk-1)-neutralizing antibody (DC101). The Pgp substrates paclitaxel (Taxol), Adriamycin, and vinblastine were all effective using this type of combination treatment, although the chemotherapy protocols showed little or no effect as monotherapies. Similar results were also obtained using cisplatinum (a non-Pgp substrate drug) against cisplatinum-resistant tumors. Evidence of significant tumor cell death by the combination treatment was detected within 3 weeks of initiation of therapy by histopathological analysis, in the absence of shrinkage of tumor mass. There were, however, marked differences in the cumulative toxicity of long-term regimens of Adriamycin and cisplatinum, where toxicity was observed, when compared with the tubulin inhibitors, vinblastine and Taxol, where it was not. We conclude that vascular-targeting protocols involving frequent administration of very low doses of certain chemotherapeutic drugs can provide a stable and safe way to circumvent multidrug resistance in established orthotopically growing tumors, as long as these are used in combination with a second antiangiogenic drug, in this case, anti-VEGFR-2 blocking antibodies.

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