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Drug Name: Doxorubicin
Brand Name: Doxil by Ortho-Biotech
FDA approval: 1995

Intended Use:  Doxorubicin is an intravenous chemotherapy drug. When combined with other drugs, it is used in the treatment of many types of cancer including mesothelioma, lung, bladder, breast and liver. Doxorubicin is the most extensively studied agent in the treatment of mesothelioma.


Doxorubicin belongs to the family of drugs called anthracycline antibiotics, or antitumor antibiotics. Antitumor antibiotics stop the growth of cancer cells in the body and are made from natural products. The products come from Streptomyces, or a species of a soil fungus. Doxorubicin damages DNA and may kill cancer cells.

The treatment is typically given in 21-day intervals by intravenous injection for 4 – 6 cycles. The time for a complete treatment is approximately one hour. Chemotherapy may increase an average of 1 to 2 months of median survival in inoperable non-small cell lung cancer patients.

However, chemotherapy may not provide a cure for these patients. A reduction of side effects and enhancement of life quality of the patients is a goal for the treatment.

Side effects from doxorubicin include pain along the site where the medication was given, nausea or vomiting, low blood counts, mouth sores, hair loss, and watery eyes. Progress and symptoms will be monitored by the medical team during treatments. The doctor should be kept well informed of any additional symptoms that may arise.

In the News

  • Geron Corporation announced on April 22, 2009, that they gave a presentation during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Denver, CO focusing on “activity of Geron’s telomerase inhibitor, imetelstat sodium (GRN163L)” against cancer stem cells in non-small cell lung cancer, and other cancers. They are testing the safety and efficacy of the drug as a single agent or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs such as doxorubicin. Geron believes they have “a drug with potentially broad anti-cancer stem cell activity.”
  • “In September 2008, we initiated a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of TH-302 in combination with doxorubicin in patients with advanced soft tissue sarcoma. We expect to provide interim results for the two trials in the second quarter of 2009 and we expect to complete enrollment in the fourth quarter of 2009. ” (Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. May 7, 2009)
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