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Cancer Treat Rev. 2008 Feb;34(1):81-91. Epub 2007 Oct 1.

Novel cytotoxic drugs: old challenges, new solutions.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Jules Bordet Institute, Universit√© Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.


The discovery of cytotoxic agents was revolutionary for anticancer therapy in the last century, improving survival rates and the quality of life of patients with different types of tumours. However, the development of agents that combine efficacy, safety and convenience remains a great challenge, due to the narrow therapeutic index of some drugs, the fact that they may damage not only cancer cells, but also normal and healthy tissue and the occurrence of resistance, limiting anticancer efficacy. Novel cytotoxic agents have brought certain advantages over the conventional ones, such as shorter administration time, mechanisms to overcome drug resistance and lower incidence of adverse events. In this review we highlight the development of promising novel cytotoxic drugs that will hopefully offer not only gains in efficacy, but also in safety, tolerability and convenience in the treatment of patients with cancer.

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