Paclitaxel, yet again, shown to spread cancer

Paclitaxel, yet again, shown to spread cancer

Researchers from Ohio State University in Columbus have confirmed previous studies and particularly what German researchers’ claimed a decade ago: that Paclitaxel has a ‘dark side’ – it can actually spread breast cancer; as Taxol breaks the tumour down, so it realeases more cancer cells into the blood stream.

Their disturbing study (1), published in 2017 in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that it increases metastases rather than reduce them as originally claimed. Paclitaxel is a frontline drug for the treatment of breast, ovarian and lung cancer.

The researchers conducted an analysis of data in patients given the drug, and linked this to treatments using mice. The results were consistent and showed that where Paclitaxel was used a gene, Atf3, was over-expressed whereas in people who had not taken the drug, it was not over-expressed.

Lead researcher Tsonwin Hai said that this gene, which is normally activated by stress and is part of the cellular stress mechanism, fertilises the lungs’  through a chain reaction making them more receptive to cancer cells.

At the same time, Paclitaxel seems to increase the circulation of cancer cells around the lungs by helping cancer cells escape from the original tumour.

Previous research, this time from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (2) showed that while Paclitaxel increased tumour cell death, it also increased 'intravasation’. This aids metastasis.

Intravasation is where Paclitaxel increases gateways’ for tumour cells to enter the blood stream through encouraging groups of cells called Tumour Microenvironment of Metastasis (TMEM).

Not surprisingly, there have been two studies showing Paclitaxel increases the rate of tumour reduction, but overall does not increase survival times (3, 4).

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and a founder of CANCERactive said, We have been absolutely consistent about the dangers of this common and much praised drug ever since we first covered the German research in 2004. The German research presented at The 27 th Annual Breast Cancer Symposium in San Antonio, by researchers from the Fredrich Schiller University showed that Paclitaxel caused the greatest shrinkage of a breast cancer tumour but a simultaneous release of the greatest number of circulating cancer cells as the tumour broke down.

It’s exactly what we’ve observed in Personal Programs with patients and why we warn them about the drug. Not for nothing has it been dubbed the Vioxx of cancer drugs.”

Go to: Review of the drug Paclitaxel, or Taxol

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  3. P. Rastogi et al, J Clin Oncology, 26, 778-785 (2008)
  4. L Gianni et all, J Clin Oncology 27, 2474-2481 (2009)
  5. Oncology News Int, Vol 14, May 2005


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