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Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2011 Jul;20(7):881-95. doi: 10.1517/13543784.2011.580736. Epub 2011 May 2.

Combining temozolomide with other antitumor drugs and target-based agents in the treatment of brain metastases: an unending quest or chasing a chimera?

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S.Giovanni di Dio Hospital, Oncology Department, Frattamaggiore, Naples, Italy.



Medical treatment of brain metastases (BM) is still a controversial issue in cancer therapy being mainly limited by the existence of the BBB. Temozolomide (TMZ) can cross BBB and several clinical trials have been performed attempting to demonstrate the activity of TMZ in combination with whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) in the treatment of BM.


This review summarizes TMZ-WBRT combination trials highlighting the confounding factors that limit the interpretation of the achieved results and describes the main clinical trials using TMZ in combination with other cytotoxic or biological agents. The main limitations of these trials are: i) patient selection for heterogenous primitive neoplasms and for heterogeneous neuro-functional score; ii) poor penetration across BBB of the other drugs; iii) cumulative toxicity and iv) poor control of extracranial tumor sites.


Biotechnological, biological and biochemical advances in the management of BM could allow in short time the definition of new schedules based on the rational use of new anticancer weapons. The latter could be cytotoxic agents encapsulated in nanotechnological tools able to cross BBB, lipophilic small kinase inhibitors (lapatinib, sunitinib), mTOR inhibitors and PARP inhibitors combined with old drugs such as TMZ.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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