Optimising treatment of bone metastases by Aredia™ and Zometa™
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Metastatic bone disease develops as a result of the many interactions between tumour cells and bone cells. This leads to disruption of normal bone metabolism, with the increased osteoclast activity seen in most, if not all, tumor types providing a rational target for treatment. The clinical course of metastatic bone disease in multiple myeloma, breast and prostate cancers is relatively long, with patients experiencing sequential skeletal complications over a period of several years. These include bone pain, fractures, hypercalcaemia, and spinal cord compression, all of which may profoundly impair a patient’s quality of life.
External beam radiotherapy and systemic endocrine and cytotoxic treatments are the mainstay of treatment in advanced cancers. However, it is now clear that the bisphosphonates provide an additional treatment strategy, which reduces both the symptoms and complications of bone involvement. Pamidronate (Aredia™) is the most widely evaluated bisphosphonate and is recommended for most patients with multiple myeloma or breast cancer with bone metastases. Current research aims include the evaluation of new potent bisphosphonates such as zoledronic acid (Zometa™). It is hoped that this compound is not only more convenient and easier to administer but also more effective in inhibiting skeletal morbidity. Zometa may also have some direct anticancer activity.
Preclinical studies with Zometa have demonstrated its potential in malignant bone disease. Clinical studies in treatment of hypercalcemia of malignancy have been completed, as have Phase I and II trials in patients with cancer and pre-existing bone metastases. Three randomized, double-blind, controlled Phase III trials are now ongoing to establish the efficacy and safety of Zometa in treatment of bone metastases in patients with osteolytic and osteoblastic lesions. Additionally, new specific molecules such as osteoprotogerin have been developed that are based on our improved understanding of the cellular signalling mechanisms involved in cancer induced bone disease. These potent molecules are now entering clinical trials.
Ongoing research is aimed at trying to define the optimum route, dose, schedule and type of bisphosphonate in metastatic bone disease and their use in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in cancer patients. In vitro suggestions of direct anti-cancer activity and some promising clinical data in early breast cancer have resulted in considerable interest in the possible adjuvant use of bisphosphonates to inhibit the development of bone metastases.
Key wordsBone metastases Bisphosphonates Pamidronate Zoledronic acid
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