Is Docetaxel Part of a New Combination to Treat Pediatric Sarcomas?


DocetaxelAs an antineoplastic drug used to treat cancer, docetaxel is also known by it’s brand name Taxotere. Docetaxel, CAS numbers 114977-28-5 and 148408-66-6, is primarily used to treat ovarian, breast, and non-small cell lung cancer. Also classified as a plant alkaloid medication, docetaxel is related to Taxol, which is a rare Pacific yew tree Taxus brevifolia. Plant alkaloids are effective as they are cell-cycle specific, and prove their efficacy by attacking dividing cells through various phases of cell division. Docetaxel also has the distinct ability to inhibit the microtubule structures within the cells, thus making this drug highly reliable and effective.

Docetaxel is an infusion drug, and it is often started after the patient receives one to three days of corticosteroid treatments to aid in potential swelling and fluid retention from the use of this medicine. In addition to the possible adverse effect of fluid retention, other side effects may include nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, hair loss, fatigue, infection and weakness. Dosages of docetaxel vary, based on cancer type, height, weight and health of patients being treated. Patients rarely experience allergic reactions, and if any do occur it usually happens during the first or second infusion or chemotherapy treatment.

A recent issue of Pediatric Blood & Cancer, dated February 2, 2012, reported on the use of GEMDOX (gemcitabine and docetaxel) in pediatric patients. These children were suffering from relapsed and refractory pediatric sarcomas, and in need of novel and efficacious treatment. These pediatric patients, treated at  Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, were given a combination of 675 milligrams of gemcitabine intravenously on days one and eight, and 75 milligrams intravenously of docetaxel on day eight. This protocol was repeated every three weeks. The median age of the children was eleven, and there were nineteen children treated for a total of 123 courses of GEMDOX. The one year progression free survival rate was 34%, and additional results indicated that this medication combination should be considered for a planned pediatric- specific clinical trial in the near future. With the crucial need for new approaches when treating pediatric rhabdomyosarcomas, research and development using docetaxel is a potential pathway to finding these much needed treatments. Working with manufacturers worldwide, LGM Pharma is a preferred supplier of the API docetaxel for research and development programs.

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