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Timing may be critical with oral anticancer agents

Timing may be everything when it comes to combining the new generation of oral, molecularly targeted anticancer agents with standard chemotherapy drugs, UC Davis Cancer Center researchers reported recently at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists.

UC Davis Cancer Center researchers studied whether sequential administration would make a difference. The researchers tested erlotinib, a new oral epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor, alone; the standard chemotherapy agent docetaxel alone; the two drugs simultaneously, and the two drugs sequentially. All the tests were done in the laboratory using human non-small cell lung cancer cells.

"We predicted that giving docetaxel first, then erlotinib, would be more effective than giving the erlotinib first, giving both drugs simultaneously or giving either drug alone," said senior investigator Paul Gumerlock, professor of hematology and oncology at UC Davis Cancer Center. "And that proved to be true."

Based on his preclinical work, a phase I trial of docetaxel followed by erlotinib in patients with non-small cell lung cancer is already under way at the center.

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