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Lung Cancer. 2001 Dec;34 Suppl 4:S111-5.

Potential of 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (Decitabine) a potent inhibitor of DNA methylation for therapy of advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

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Centre de recherche, Hôpital Ste-Justine, Sherbrooke West, 3175 Côte Ste-Catherine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Although new agents and drug combinations have increased the response rate in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), long-term survivors are rare. There is an urgent need to develop new chemotherapeutic approaches for disease. In a previous pilot phase I-II study on 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-AZA-CdR) in patients with stage IV NSCLC, we observed several interesting responses, including one patient that was still alive (68 months) at the time of publication of our results. In the present report, we want to point out the long-term follow up of this patient, who survived 81 months, and discuss the interesting mechanism of action of 5-AZA-CdR that may have been responsible for this interesting response. 5-AZA-CdR is a potent inhibitor of DNA methylation. Recent progress in this field has shown that aberrant methylation of the promoter region of tumor suppressor genes inhibits their expression. This epigenetic event can contribute to tumorigenesis. Since 5-AZA-CdR can reactivate these genes by blocking DNA methylation, it has the potential to reverse tumorigenesis. This novel mode of action makes it an interesting agent to investigate for the chemotherapy of malignant disease, including lung cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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